Noble Venturer drillship; Source: Noble Corporation

BP and Eni’s Angolan JV makes its first foray into Namibia’s ‘highly prospective’ Orange Basin

Angola-headquartered Azule Energy, a joint venture between BP and Eni, has struck its first international deal since its creation in 2022, which enables the firm to enter into the Orange Basin off the coast of Namibia.

Noble Venturer drillship; Source: Noble Corporation

Azule Energy is joining other oil and gas players in Namibia’s Orange Basin, thanks to a farm-in agreement with Rhino Resources Namibia for a 42.5% interest in Block 2914A in petroleum exploration license 85 (PEL85). This basin is turning into the world’s next hydrocarbon province with several major oil discoveries since 2022. The current partners in PEL 85 are Rhino (operator, 85%), Namcor (10%), and a local company, Korres Investments (5%). Azule Energy has the option to become the operator of PEL85.

Adriano Mangini, Azule Energy’s CEO, highlighted: “Our entry into offshore Namibia represents a significant milestone for Azule. We are excited to enter this highly prospective hydrocarbon region and to participate in the unlocking of Namibia’s oil and gas potential. This venture aligns with Azule Energy’s vision of becoming a regional leader in energy exploration and underscores its dedication to safe and reliable resource development.”

Furthermore, the transaction is subject to customary third-party approvals from the Namibian authorities and joint venture parties. As the plan is to drill two high-impact exploration wells, as part of a work program in the area, Rhino recently hired the Noble Venturer rig for these drilling activities with the first well expected to spud by the end of 2024.

Azule Energy has joined a long list of players that have found their way into the Orange Basin to search for more hydrocarbons. This deal follows Sintana Energy’s definitive agreement with Crown Energy to get up to 67% of the issued and outstanding shares of Giraffe Energy, which is the owner of a 33% interest in PEL 79, governing blocks 2815 and 2915 located inboard of blocks operated by BW Energy, Rhino Resources, and Shell in Namibia’s Orange Basin.

Chevron also recently ensured its entrance into PEL 82 due to an agreement to assume an 80% working interest and operatorship. As a result, the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia and Custos Energy will each maintain a 10% carried interest in PEL 82 with Canada’s Sintana Energy holding an indirect 49% interest in Custos. 

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Commenting on the deal with Azule, Travis Smithard, Rhino Resources’ CEO, remarked: “The signing of this agreement sets the foundations for a new strategic partnership between Rhino and Azule. This partnership is based upon a mutual drive to accelerate exploration on the block with the goal of developing the hydrocarbon potential in the shortest timeframes possible.

Azule is perceived to be Angola’s largest independent equity producer of oil and gas, holding net resources of 2 billion barrels of oil equivalent and growing equity production to about 250,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day over the next four years. The company holds stakes in 20 licenses, participates in the Angola LNG JV, and is the operator of the New Gas Consortium. In addition, the firm has also taken over Eni’s share in Solenova, a solar company jointly held with Sonangol, and the collaboration in the Luanda Refinery.

Currently, Azule Energy is working on developing its Agogo Integrated West Hub development project located in the West Hub of Block 15/06 offshore Angola. Strides have been made in constructing an FPSO for this project with the lifting and installation operation of the first modules and the connection of the electrical system of the residential area for the FPSO at the shipyard where Yinson is carrying out these construction activities.

“We believe that Azule’s unique capabilities of rapid deployment of technical and financial resources will complement our objectives of delivering value creation, for the benefit of all Namibian stakeholders,” added Smithard.