Norway’s Statoil withdraws from Rovuma Basin in Northern Mozambique

August 06, 2014 | Africa, Company Operations

Maputo, Mozambique |- Norwegian oil company Statoil has announced its withdrawal from the Rovuma Basin in northern Mozambique, following its failure to discover significant hydrocarbon deposits in its concession areas.

Statoil was the concession holder for the Rovuma Basin offshore areas 2 and 5. Initially the concession was held by Norsk Hydro and the Mozambican National Hydrocarbon Company (ENH), with 90 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

In 2008, Norsk Hydro and Statoil merged, and the new operator took the name Statoil Oil and Gas Mozambique. Later, two other companies joined the consortium — London-based Tullow Oil in 2011 and INPEX of Australia in 2013.

According to a source at Mozambique’s National Petroleum Institute (INP), cited in Tuesday’s issue of the Maputo daily Noticias, the Statoil-led consortium undertook exploration programmes, including acquiring 2D and 3D seismic data, and drilling two wells.

But nothing was found and the eight-year concession contract expired in 2014.

“Faced with the negative results from the exploration work, and because of the legal imperative, the members of the consortium decided unanimously to abandon areas 2 and 5 as from June 1, this year,” the INP source confirmed.

This means that areas 2 and 5 are now free for other investors to try their luck, once the government has organized new public tenders. The areas are so large that the failure to find hydrocarbons at just two sites cannot be interpreted as meaning that there is no oil or gas anywhere in areas 2 or 5.

Elsewhere in the Rovuma Basin, in areas 1 and 4, operated by the US company Anadarko and by ENI of Italy, huge reserves of natural gas has been found. The discoveries announced by Anadarko and ENI amount to more than 190 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to justify the construction of several factories producing liquefied natural gas (LNG). The plans of the two companies are well advanced, and the starting date for LNG exports is 2018.