Canadian oil & gas production firm Zenith Energy has said it is in advanced negotiations to contract a rig for drilling in the Republic of Congo.

The company plans to commence drilling operations at the Tilapia field in April this year, once it has finalised the deal to allow it to drill.

Zenith will take a stake after agreeing in December 2019 to buy an 80% stake in Anglo African Oil & Gas Congo (AAOG), which holds a 56% operated interest in the oilfield.

The acquisition is still conditional on meeting regulatory standards and consent from officials.

The Tilapia field, which lies in the Lower Republic of the Congo Basin offshore the Republic of the Congo, was producing about 38 barrels of oil per day from wells in the R1/R2 horizon when the acquisition was announced.

Production began in 2007 at 942 barrels of oil per day. It is estimated to contain P90 reserves of 7.6 million barrels in the existing R1/R2 horizons.

Zenith Energy CEO Andrea Cattaneo said: “It is the board’s view that there is significant potential for near-term value creation in Zenith’s equity due to a number of business development activities we are pursuing, foremost amongst which is completion of the AAOG Congo acquisition and the planned drilling activities in the Mengo and Djeno horizons.

“As evidenced by our advanced negotiations with a local drilling contractor, we intend to commence operational activities without delay once completion is achieved.”

Earlier this month, Zenith said it had identified two drilling rigs to perform planned operations. One of the rigs is now the subject of advanced discussions, and it is expected to become available in the next 30 days.