The Mozambican Government has granted five oil and gas research and development concession contracts to the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) for offshore blocks in the southern African country’s waters.

Approved by Mozambique’s Council of Ministers, the blocks were awarded as part of the sixth licensing round launched by the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy (MIREME). CNOOC will explore two shallow-water blocks in the Save offshore region (S6-A and S6-B) and three offshore blocks in the Angoche offshore region (A6-D, A6-E and A6-G).

CNOOC will own between 70 and 80% of the blocks, while Mozambique state-owned Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos will own the rest.

MIREME initially launched the licensing round in November 2021, with 16 blocks offered but bids only being made for six. CNOOC submitted proposals for blocks in November 2022, securing both blocks in the Save area, which is located off the southern province of Inhambane and has no active offshore developments.

Both the Angoche and Save regions stand outside of the Cabo Delgado region, in which offshore oil and gas activities have faced extensive delays due to Islamist terror threats.

Instituto de Petróleo, Mozambique’s regulatory body, said that CNOOC’s research activities will include acquiring more than 26,000km² of seismic data, drilling at least four deep-water research wells and conducting geoscientific studies in both the Save and Angoshe offshore regions.

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At the Council of Ministers meeting last Tuesday, government spokesman Filimão Suaze said: “As part of the implementation of the mineral resources policy, the Government of Mozambique continued with actions aimed at seeking more investments for the oil sector.”

Currently, Mozambique does not produce any of its own crude oil, relying on imports to satisfy domestic demand.