DRCongo approves oil deals, cancels British contract

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Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has approved four contracts to drill oil in Lake Albert, cancelling an agreement with British firm Tullow Oil, according to an official notice.

Drilling rights for Blocks 1 and 2 on the Congolese side of the lake, which borders Uganda, have been granted to Caprikat and Foxwhelp, firms which are registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The rights to the other two blocks have been awarded to South Africa Congo Oil, which is in partnership with state oil company Congolaise des Hydrocarbures, and to a group comprised of Soco International and Dominion Petroleum, also in partnership with Congolaise des Hydrocarbures.

The official notice of approval of the contracts was published June 22.

Tullow Oil signed a contract to explore Blocks 1 and 2 in 2006, but the head of state would not approve the deal.

In 2008 the rights were awarded by the Congolese energy ministry to South African firm Divine Inspiration despite Tullow's protests, but the deal again did not receive presidential approval.

The contracts with Caprikat and Foxwhelp were agreed May 5.

Oil production in Democratic Republic of Congo is approximately 30,000 barrels a day. According to estimates, the Congolese side of Lake Albert could produce up to 150,000 barrels per day.

© 2010 AFP

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