Mozambique’s oil and gas regulator said exploration contracts for the nation’s fifth licensing round in 2015, which awarded blocks to companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Eni SpA, are close to being finalized.
Winners of the bidding round have awaited legislation and a new model for exploration and production concession contracts, which should be resolved by July, Agostinho Rodrigues Chibielo, an official at Instituto Nacional de Petroleo’s exploration division, said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Once the contracts have been signed, Exxon plans to drill two wells and Eni at least one next year, he said.
“Important progress has been made and we look forward to concluding agreements with the government of Mozambique,” Exxon said in an emailed response. An Eni spokeswoman wasn’t immediately able to comment.
The prospect of more exploration comes as momentum builds in Mozambique to develop some of the biggest natural gas discoveries in a decade. Exxon last year acquired a 25% stake from Eni in a block off the African nation’s northern coast.
The fifth bidding round opened in October 2014 and attracted applications for seven of the 15 blocks that were offered. The offshore areas lie in the Angoche Basin and the Zambezi Basin, and onshore in the Mozambique Basin.
Exxon was awarded three offshore blocks as an operator with a 60% stake, with partner Rosneft Oil Co PJSC holding a 20% interest, according to the institute. When the blocks were awarded, the regulator estimated the companies would spend almost US$700 million on exploration.