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Sonangol, the Angolan state oil group that has amassed assets from Iraq to Cuba, is aiming to raise fivefold its production as an operator.
Manuel Vicente, whose promotion to minister of state for economic co-ordination in January ended his 12 years at the helm of Sonangol, told the Financial Times the group had set of target of producing 500,000 barrels a day from oil fields it operates in Angola and beyond.
Sonangol oversees Africa’s second biggest oil industry and generated revenues of $34bn last year. But most of its holdings are as a non-operating equity partner in oil ventures run by the foreign groups that pump the bulk of Angola’s 1.8m daily barrels of crude.
Mr Vicente did not offer a timeframe for the target, which represents a significant expansion of Sonangol’s operated production of some 100,000 b/d off the country’s coast.
“You can’t only have those assets in Angola because it’s like a cycle in the economy. There are good years and bad years, you can have some problems in certain fields and you can compensate in the other fields,” Mr Vicente said. “And the only way to do that is to look abroad.”
Sonangol demonstrated its ambition in Iraq’s 2009 bid round, securing rights in a volatile corner of Kurdistan that was spurned by bigger groups. However, militant attacks forced it to suspend operations in December.
The group is exploring off the Cuban coast. Its 2009 acquisition of Brazilian independent Starfish Oil & Gas bought it operatorships close to big discoveries deep under Brazil’s seabed. Sonangol is also eyeing newly independent and oil-rich South Sudan, although it is unclear whether it hopes to operate fields there.
“They are really driving to be an operator internationally,” said one person familiar with Sonangol’s exploration and production arm.
Under Mr Vicente, Sonangol grew into a conglomerate likened by some observers to a sovereign wealth fund.
Its subsidiaries have interests across the oil business, from exploration to refining, as well as diverse activities ranging from airlines to finance and a portfolio of equity investments in western energy groups.
It runs infrastructure projects and has a joint venture with a group of private Hong Kong investors who are snapping up energy and mining rights across Africa.