Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Prelude: Could Angola Become the Next Brazil?

A fair warning: first, exploration of Angola's subsalt regions is still a little ways down the road - three or four years away - and oil has yet to be struck. Still, there's striking similarities between Brazil and Angola's subsalt regions - something that has drawn the attention of Petrobras. Read below or click here for the article...

Geological similarities between Angola's and Brazil's subsalt areas suggest that future exploratory drilling on Angola's continental shelf may one day find oil reserves similar to Brazil's recent large discoveries, a Sonangol scientist said Wednesday.

Sonangol, Angola's state oil firm, has started preliminary studies into Angola's subsalt region over the last several months. The company is now preparing for seismic and other geological studies -- expected to cost hundreds of million of dollars -- to assess the size of reserves in the country's subsalt region, said Luman Sebastiao, a geoscientist for Angola state oil firm Sonangol's exploration unit.


The Angolan and the Brazilian continental shelves have various similarities as they have been joined for a certain geological period," Sebastiao said.

Brazilian state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA in the past two years has announced several massive oil finds in the subsalt area off Brazil's coast that together contain dozens of billions of barrels in reserves.

Oil found in the area is usually at water depths of around 2,000 meters, and several thousand meters further below layers of sand, rocks and salt -- making exploration and production challenging and expensive.


The subsalt is Angola's next exploration front, after deep and ultra-deep exploration, Sebastiao said, adding that unlike in Brazil, Angola's subsalt region is found both onshore and offshore.

Angola's onshore subsalt region lies about 4,000 meters below the ground, while the offshore subsalt region lies even deeper, Sebastiao said.

Brazil's Petrobras has been helping Sonangol in starting to study its subsalt region, and many Sonangol technicians have been trained in the area in Brazil, Sebastiao said.


Angola's studies into its subsalt area at first are concentrating on the Kwanza onshore and offshore basin, and the Congo basin. At a later stage, Angola will study more southern regions.

Ghawar Guzzler Comment: True, oil has yet to be found in Angola's subsalt region and exploratory drilling is a few years away. It may very well all be for naught - busts are apart of life in the oil and gas industry. But if Angola strikes it rich, you'll be way ahead of the curve of knowing of its development. I'll keep you posted if I learn of any positive developments. Petrobras is banking on Angola, and their track record speaks for itself.

- Brewskie


  1. I'll say it again: The problem is not Peak Oil, but Thug Oil. Angola is yet another unstable place to try to cut a deal. I hope for the best, but fear the worst--Angola will screw this up, the way African nations screw everything up.
    The Oil Gods love thugs--they have all the oil.
    Western nations would be wise to migrate to other power sources, and we are. B. Cole

  2. B Cole,

    While oil generates massive wealth, it sadly doesn't generate a number of jobs that corresponds to the wealth. Nigeria (and oil majors who work there) would be wiser if they took proactive steps by investing oil money in jobs, schools, infrastructure and hospitals, plus take better care of the environment. Perhaps a lot of pain and bloodletting could have been averted through proper foresight.

  3. I suppose I agree. I suspect the effort would be for nought. In theory, and honest and clean government would take oil revenues and do that exactly, and the population would respond by uplifting themselves.
    I have met many good-hearted Africans, and I wish them the best and hate no one. But Africa will always be a mess. B Cole

  4. Thank you European ancestry and American slavery...

    Africa's pain will persist for some time. Who knows, though... China was an economic backwater twenty years ago and look how far its come. The Asian tiger has a ways to go, especially with human rights, but it's improving and has a place in the world. Maybe this gives hope to Africa... at least some parts of it.


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