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Economy - Development | Politics

Oil wealth found onshore war-torn Cabinda

afrol News, 17 September - Angolan authorities hold that a recent oil discovery onshore the enclave Cabinda is even five times greater than announced by the Australian oil company Roc Oil in August. The gigantic oil reserve could lead to onshore production on the disputed territory.

In late August, Roc Oil emitted an optimistic press release, saying the Australian company had made an oil discovery enabling it to extract 33 million barrels of oil from the onshore Massambala oil field in Cabinda. Roc Oil's share immediately rose by 16 percent.

Following the Massambalala strike, Roc Oil said it planned to explore four wells of "high potential impact," for which it is simultaneously using two platforms. Roc Oil owns 60 percent of the bloc, and has operator status, and its partners are Angola's Sonangol (20 percent) and Force Petroleum (20 percent).

This weekend, the Angolan state agency promoting private investments in the country, ANIP, however announced that the Massambalala strike in Cabinda had been even more impressive. "The Massambala-1 oil field has a total reserve of 170 million barrels of oil, which is five times the initial forecast of 33 million barrels," ANIP stated.

The Angolan state agency is looking for more investors to join the promising Cabindan oil field. "Exploration of onshore Cabinda requires investments of US$ 54 million," according to ANIP.

While the enclave province of Cabinda already accounts for over half of Angolan oil production, this is until now mainly made offshore. Cabindan offshore blocks are by now well explored and producing massively, but onshore, even exploration has been limited.

The lack of investments onshore in Cabinda has nothing to do with the lack of potential oil resources - analysts generally agree that the enclave is rich on onshore oil. Since independence in 1975, Cabindans have demanded their own state and fought for it in an armed struggle. The demand for independence is based on the fact that Angola and Cabinda were two separate Portuguese colonies until short before independence.

Oil production offshore Cabinda has not contributed to the economic development of the enclave, but rather pumped up the war machinery of the Luanda government, which is famed for it poor transparency when it comes to oil revenues. But also the armed operations of Cabindan separatists have contributed to an unwillingness to invest on the territory.

It remains unsure whether investments in onshore oil production in Cabinda are secure. The Angolan army maintains it has won the war in Cabinda, with several Cabindan factions having agreed to a peace agreement.

But Cabindan separatists claim they still control great parts of the territory outside the capital. The so-called exiled government of Cabinda - whose influence on the territory is disputed - claims its unique right to extend oil exploration and exploitation permits to companies wanting to operate in Cabinda.

While the Angolan army currently seems to be in control of most of Cabinda and normal life is returning to the capital, onshore investments here still are seen as being insecure. Cabindan separatists have made it clear that they will not accept such installations onshore without resistance.

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