(AFP, KUALA LUMPUR) – Malaysia's national oil firm Petronas has been allocated at least a 40 percent stake in an oil exploration and production project in southern Sudan, a report said Thursday.
Petrolian Nasional Bhd. (Petronas) is expected to become the main operator of a new site known as Block 5B, The Sun quoted Hassan Mohamad Ali, secretary-general of Sudan's mining and energy ministry, as saying.
Hassan said the Sudanese government has allocated a stake of 40 percent or more to Petronas but further negotiations were underway.
"The Sudanese government will hold a bigger share in this project, at least 15 percent compared to its 5 percent equity in previous ventures, and the rest will be allocated to European companies," he said.
"Petronas will be the operator of this project and we hope to finish negotiations by January and mobilise the project in the next six months."
According to the newspaper, the amount of investment from Petronas in the Block 5B operation has yet to be decided but was expected to run into billions of ringgit.
Petronas has joint investments in other oil projects in Sudan. It holds a 30 percent stake in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC) which is exploring and developing Blocks 1, 2 and 4 in south Sudan.
In the GNPOC ventures, Petronas' three partners are China National Petroleum Corp. which has a 40 percent stake, Talisman Energy Corp. with 25 percent and Sudan's national oil company Sudapet Ltd. with 5 percent.
Petronas has invested about 800 million dollars in petroleum exploration and production in Sudan, said to be its largest single overseas investment so far, according to The Sun.
Petronas country manager Omar Suhaimi Abu Hassan was quoted as saying high oil prices would help the company recoup its investment in Sudan earlier than expected.
Instead of the normal six to seven years, the recovery period could be shortened by at least two to three years if high oil prices prevailed, Omar said.
Omar said the GNPOC project has recovered 620 million barrels of oil, and was in the midst of exploring and discovering another 330 million barrels.
Blocks 1, 2 and 4 under the GNPOC exploration project are believed to contain combined reserves of some 2.8 billion barrels, the report added.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)