July 16, 2008

SAfrican, Mozambican Oil Companies to Start Joint Offshore Drilling

Text of report by South African news agency SAPA website

Cape Town, July 16: Petrochemical giant Sasol and Mozambique state oil company Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH) are preparing to start drilling for natural gas in deep water off that country's coast.

Drilling and towing contracts allowing the exploration to start in the third quarter of this year were finalized on Wednesday, Sasol announced in a statement.

"Sasol Petroleum Sofala Limitada (SPS) and ENH are the concession holders of Blocks 16 and 19 offshore Mozambique."

The exploration area covered about 11,000km2, and was directly opposite Sasol's existing onshore gas operations at Pande and Temane.

A lease agreement had been signed for a mobile offshore drilling unit as well as two towing and anchor handling vessels to support the rig.

"The rig and vessels are expected to arrive in Mozambique towards the end of August 2008. The drilling of explorations wells will take place in deep water, well away from the shallow environmentally sensitive waters of the Bazaruto Archipelago," Sasol said.

Should the drilling campaign be successful, the company intended to supply natural gas to markets in Mozambique and South Africa.

Originally published by SAPA news agency website, Johannesburg, in English 1448 16 Jul 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Africa. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.