March 30, 2007 / 3:56 PM / 12 years ago

Togo grants Nigerian firm Oranto oil search permit

LOME, March 30 (Reuters) - Togo has awarded an oil exploration contract in offshore acreage to private Nigerian company Oranto Petroleum International Ltd., the government of the small West African country said.

In a strategy to step up the hunt for hydrocarbons in Togolese waters off the Gulf of Guinea, the government also divided its offshore area into two blocks — one covering a depth of up to 500 metres and the other covering over 500 metres, according to a statement on Togo’s official Website.

The statement said the cabinet had approved an oil exploration contract for Oranto Petroleum. The accord would last two years and was renewable. No more details were given.

Togo, a narrow sliver of territory wedged between Ghana and Benin, has a short coastline facing south into the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, which groups sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil producers Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea.

Previous exploration wells drilled by a U.S.-based company, Hunt Oil, earlier this decade failed to find oil in commercial quantities.

The government said exploration carried out so far had not been extensive enough. “We must therefore intensify the search and so mobilise the kind of investments that only international oil companies can guarantee,” it added.

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