ExxonMobil Namibia has entered into an agreement with Namibian oil exploration and production company Azinam to acquire a 30% stake in Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) 44, offshore Namibia.

The acquisition is subject to government approval and other conditions.

Azinam managing director David Sturt said: “We are delighted to welcome ExxonMobil onto PEL 44.  To attract such a successful Atlantic Margin explorer of scale provides further support of our technical view of the Walvis Basin and our licence areas.

“Azinam has built a substantial position, with a footprint that extends over 62,000km² of the Walvis Basin, providing a unique data footprint and comprehensive understanding of the region.”

Under the deal, Azinam will retain a 12.5% interest, with the PEL operator Maurel & Prom retaining its 42.5% stake. Namibian partners NAMCOR, Livingstone Mining and Frontier Minerals will keep their interests of 8%, 4% and 3% respectively.

PEL 44 is located in the Walvis Basin offshore Namibia, covering an area of 5,722km2 , in water depths of 300m to 2,500m. In 2016, Azinam acquired a 2,000km2 3D seismic survey, and an additional 1,160km2 of new data, the processing of which is still ongoing.

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Sturt added: “The significant petroleum potential we see within the Walvis Basin is complemented by a highly supportive regulatory regime and our talented young dynamic workforce. Soon after our entry into Namibia we took the decision to develop local expertise and are now proud to have an office in Windhoek staffed entirely by Namibians, working on our projects in both Namibia and beyond, in a wider African context.

The transaction signals increasing industrial activity in Namibia, with India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) recently farming into PEL 37, and Tullow Oil planning to spud a well in the third quarter of this year.

In Q4 2018, Azinam will use the Ocean Rig Poseidon drilling rig to spud Prospect S in PEL 71, in which the company holds a 20% interest.

Azinam chair Erik Tiller said: “Since we announced our intention to drill multiple wells offshore Namibia, we have contracted the Ocean Rig Poseidon to drill Prospect S in PEL 71 and now welcome ExxonMobil onto PEL 44. We continue to be extremely active in our technical evaluation and in engaging the industry as we seek appropriate strategic partners to join us in the next phases of our licence developments.”