Angola’s oil, gas projects seek bids from Chinese companies as nation aims for closer trade, investment ties with China

Angola, a close partner of China and energy producer situated on the west-central coast of Southern Africa, is intensifying its efforts to foster oil and gas cooperation with Chinese companies through bids for new projects. This move aims to leverage the potential of the robust Chinese market.

With support from the Embassy of Angola in China, the Angola Oil & Gas Business Forum 2023 took place in Beijing on Monday. During the event, new bidding opportunities were announced for 12 major oil and gas blocks in the region as the country actively seeks more Chinese investment in the energy sector, which requires additional capital and technological input for its development.

Speaking at the forum, Alcides Andrade, head of the Negotiations Directorate, ANPG, the national oil, gas and biofuels agency of Angola, told the Global Times that it has 12 petroleum blocks open for bidding, and this is the first time that it has this kind of workshop to present opportunities in China.

“In terms of resources for bidding, we are talking about different blocks with different capacities, ranging from 100 million barrels all the way to more than 2 billion barrels,” he said.

“Based on the discussions that we have been having with different Chinese companies this week, we expect many companies to participate… and they have shown interest in investing in the blocks,” Andrade said.

About 100 Chinese companies, primarily engaged in oil and gas exploration, engineering, and investment, were invited to the promotional event. Many Chinese firms have extensive experience in energy cooperation in various African nations, while Angola is regarded as a promising market for further business expansion on the continent, fostering mutually beneficial outcomes, industry insiders said.

“We don’t have cooperative projects in Angola at the moment but we are looking forward to the possibility of future cooperation in the oil and gas industry there,” Liu Huiping, a senior vice president of the international department of China Huanqiu Contracting & Engineering Co, who participated in the forum, told the Global Times.

Liu’s company specializes in energy engineering and it can offer technical support in the sector. It has corresponding projects in some African countries such as Mozambique and Algeria.

Currently, there’s significant domestic demand for petroleum, with almost half being imported, which is linked to China’s consumption upgrading, Liu said, indicating the potential for business expansion overseas.

Sun Songquan, an employee of Sinopec Engineering (Group) Co, told the Global Times on Monday that Angola, being one of the major source countries for China’s oil and gas, presents numerous market opportunities.

The company’s primary focus is on energy infrastructure project engineering, with the main target markets being the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Angola is rich in oil and gas resources and one of the largest oil-producing countries in Africa. The country, as one of the economies with the most potential along the Belt and Road Initiative, is currently the third-largest source of oil for China. The two sides have always maintained a close relationship in energy trade, according to the Embassy of Angola to China.

Monday’s meeting came just two months after Zhang Jianhua, head of China’s National Energy Administration, met with Minister of Mineral Resources, Petroleum and Gas of Angola Diamantino Azevedo, in early June, during which the two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on topics such as deepening and expanding oil and gas cooperation.

Monday’s event is expected to draw more Chinese enterprises to invest in Angola.

The oil industry holds significant importance in Angola’s strategic development and the bidding signifies the country’s recognition and confidence in the technical capabilities of Chinese companies, Ambassador of Angola to China João Salvador dos Santos Neto told the Global Times on Monday.

The ambassador hopes that this event serves as a starting point to transform natural resources into social wealth, benefiting the Angolan people and promoting bilateral trade even further.

“We aspire to collaborate with strong nations like China to explore more investment opportunities. Despite project slowdowns during the pandemic, we are striving for gradual recovery,” Neto said.

The ambassador also has high expectations for the use of local currencies for trade and investment settlement. He noted that with China’s substantial foreign investment volume and influence, yuan settlements are becoming a stronger global trend.