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Go-ahead for west Africa’s first cross-border development

The first oil development to cross borders in West Africa has the go-ahead

Chevron is to go ahead with the first oil development spanning national boundaries in west Africa, in a move which could set a precedent for the commercialisation of other fields close to border-lines. The company is to bring on-stream its Lianzi field, lying in an offshore area shared between Angola and Congo (Brazzaville).

The development, under negotiation for many years, “represents a unique co-operative approach to shared offshore resources and may serve as a model for the development of similar cross-border fields between the two countries”, according to Ali Moshiri, head of Chevron’s Africa and Latin America upstream operations. The governments of Angola and Congo (Brazzaville) had signed initial protocols covering developments in contested waters in 2001 and 2002, and the Lianzi discovery was announced by Chevron in 2004.

Lianzi lies 105 km off the coast in a 696 square km joint development zone, in which revenues are to be shared 50:50 between participants in Angola’s Block 14 and those in Congo (Brazzaville)’s Haute Mer licence. Unitised interests in the area, designated 14K/A-IMI, are Chevron, 31.25%, Total, 36.75, Eni, 10.0%, Sonangol, 10.0%, Société Nationale des Pétroles du Congo, 7.5% and Galp, 4.5%.

The $2 billion development will see Lianzi brought on stream through a subsea production system, tied-back to Chevron’s Benguela-Belize-Lobito-Tomboco (BBLT) development in Angolan waters. Crude will flow to BBLT’s compliant piled-tower platform through a 43-km pipeline with electrical heating – the first time heating has been used at the 900 metres water-depth, Chevron says. Lianzi is due on stream in 2015, and should flow 46,000 barrels a day (b/d) of oil-equivalent.

The Lianzi development, and the possibility of additional discoveries in the shared zone, will be of particular benefit for Congo (Brazzaville), which produces about 300,000 b/d at present while Angola’s production is running at about 1.8 million b/d. For Chevron, Lianzi will provide a useful additional flow through the 220,000 b/d processing facilities on its BBLT platform, where there is considerable spare capacity.

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