OPEC bulletin 2–3/14
90 rigs active. This compared with no activity at all in
1999, when the country was still under United Nations
Meanwhile, in Africa, activity is being led by two
other OPEC Members — Algeria and Angola. The former
has around 50 rigs in operation, while Angola, which is
making a strong recovery after years of crippling civil war,
has 13 offshore rigsworking. In both cases, drilling activ-
ity has tripled over the last 15 years.
Mature producers
These five OPEC Member Countries, which are regarded
as very mature producers with large conventional oil
and gas fields, are together accounting for some 30 per
cent of the increase in oil and gas drilling outside North
America since 1999.
It has to be noted that rig counts reported by Baker
and certain other countries.
report points out that the drilling activ-
ity boom is a welcome development for the global petro-
leumsector, given the recent production losses fromsuch
countries as Iran, Libya, Syria and South Sudan for vary-
ing reasons.
Despite these disruptions, exploration and produc-
tion activity is seen to be rising strongly in some of the
oil industry’s most traditional areas and the underlying
production potential has expanded significantly in the
past three years as a result of increased investment.
The report noted that the prevailing high crude oil
prices made investment more accessible, especially in
recent years for the development of unconventional oil,
such as shale oil and gas, which has transformed the for-
tunes of North America.
But the higher prices were also supporting the devel-
logically demanding and expensive technology to reach
otherwise inaccessible oil and gas resources.
The report noted that since the summer of 2013,most
major integrated oil and gas producers had announced
reductions in their capital expenditure programmes.
However, the reduced expenditurewas likely tobemostly
in megaprojects costing $1 billion or more.
It stressed that technologically straightforward con-
ventional plays in the Middle East and onshore Africa
were likely to be unaffected. It forecast that, barring any
unforeseen circumstances, global oil and gas output
should remain healthy for the next two to three years.
Meanwhile, according to a report from Energy Intel-
ligence Research & Advisory’s Country Risk Evolution
(CRE) service, more than 40 international oil licensing
rounds are either open or scheduled to be held by the
end of 2014.
The report revealed that five of the countries involved
in licensing activity — Algeria, Angola, Cameroon,
Argentina and the United Kingdom — were considered
very positive due to their experience in previous bidding
rounds and the negotiation process.
It noted that Algeria had entered into its fourth inter-
national bidding round, in the hope of boosting years of
lagging interest in its upstream sector. The country was
offering 31 blocks across multiple basins, including the
Tindouf, Timimoun and Reggane basins in the west and
southwest, and Illizi and Berkine in the east.
And following a presidential decree issued late last
year, Angola is due to launch a licensing round this year
involving 15 onshore blocks in the Kwanza and Lower
Congo basins. Five of these blocks will be allocated to
the national oil company, Sonangol, while the remain-
ing ten blocks will go to international bidders.
In Cameroon, four blocks — three onshore and one
offshore—were announced in a tender issued in January.
Under the government’s regulations, thenational oil com-
pany, SNH, is able to take an equity stake in the blocks.
It already holds a 20 per cent interest in several of the
country’s producing fields.
Argentina is set to launch a bidding round in March,
centred on the Vaca Muerta shale formation in Neuquen
province. The round will give existing interested parties,
including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Wintershall, Apache,
and Americas Petrogas, the chance to expand their shale
UK licensing round
Meanwhile, the UK, which is fighting to correct years of
decline in itspetroleumoutput andoperations, launched
its 28
Seaward Licensing Round in January, which
involves blocks in the northern, central and southern
North Sea areas, as well as an area west of the Hebrides.
Areas to the west, south and southwest of England are
also included.
The CRE report also noted that bid rounds in other
frontier countries included Guinea, Lebanon and
Liberia, where access to unexplored areas was on offer.
But these possible concessions also came with a lot
of risk.
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