Angola has taken another step towards reforming the oil sector, the country’s main source of revenue, with the creation of the National Oil and Gas Agency (ANPG), made official this month.
Presidential Decree No. 15/19, which approved the Organic Statute of Angola’s national oil and gas company, Sonangol, was published on 9 January and its main point is the transfer concessionaire responsibilities,until now carried out by Sonangol, to the ANPG.
The measure, according to the document, is focused on ensuring “greater political coordination and elimination of conflict of interests, increased transparency and efficiency, and the creation of conditions conducive to internal and external investment,” in the oil sector.
With this latest amendment, Sonangol no longer holds exclusive rights to the prospecting, exploration and production of hydrocarbons and no longer has the power to propose plans and programmes for the evaluation of oil and gas exploration potential and to propose implementation of regional development programmes in the sector.
At an organisational level, in addition to the Board of Directors and Audit Committee, a Management Board has been created, which is an advisory body composed of the Chairman of the Board of Directors, the managers, the heads of several functional areas and the union representatives of the company .
The Ministry of Oil, historically under Sonangol, will now have the role of sector regulator, and the state oil company will exclusively be an investor.
The Africa Monitor newsletter reported that relations and coordination between the major oil multinationals in Angola and Sonangol have been improving under the new chairmanship of Carlos Saturnino, who took over the role from Isabel dos Santos.
Improved relations have resulted in increased investment in research and production, which is needed to reverse the negative trend in the country’s oil production, which last year saw the second largest decline among OPEC countries, to 1.5 million barrels per day, according to the latest OPEC report.
However, according to Africa Monitor, the oil companies have reservations about the possibility of creating the new Agency in the current context, mainly because of the potential for delays in the approval of new investment projects, due to the government’s focus on creating the ANPG and the process of splitting off and transferring responsibilities.
Other concerns, Africa Monitor reported, are related to the transfer of qualified human resources, which are already considered scarce, from Sonangol to the ANPG and potential inefficiencies of the future model, increasing the time it takes for foreign companies to assess and approve investment decisions.