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PetroSA Eyes Joint Venture with Egypt Firm

Source: Reuters 10/20/2010, Location: Africa

South Africa's PetroSA is seeking a joint venture with an Egyptian company, its chairman said, as it wants to continue working in the country although its own oil exploration efforts in Egypt have not been successful.

The South African national oil company already holds exploration acreage in Egypt and is "seriously considering" entering a new round of bids announced by the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation, Linda Makatini said.

Makatini, in Cairo for a high-level state visit that included President Jacob Zuma and was aimed at bolstering the weak trade ties between the two countries, said she would maintain interest in Egypt.

"We understand that you cannot work in countries without engaging or participating jointly with the firms already operating there," she said in an interview late on Tuesday.

PetroSA was in talks with several firms under the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum but it would also seek opportunities with companies that are not necessarily 100 percent owned by the state, Makatini said.

"We come with the approach that I'm at your back door, my back door is also open to you," she added.

PetroSA's exploration efforts in Egypt failed to yield results after the firm spent some $100 million, Makatini said.

"As is the business of oil, it did not yield much results for us but it did not stop our appetite for wanting to work in Egypt," she said.

Egypt's proven reserves of oil and gas rose to 18.3 billion barrels equivalent in the year to end-June and the country expects to boost them to 20 billion over the next two years, the state news agency said in August.

Makatini said PetroSA was waiting for a political green light before selling a stake of up to 30 percent in a planned 400,000 barrel-per-day refinery at South Africa's port of Coega, potentially among the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.

The company has said it was talking to China's Sinopec as well as Malaysia's state-owned oil company Petronas and Sonangol of Angola.

"Sinopec is a partner. Definitely, we have engaged with them and they have expressed interest and requested further information," Makatini said. "We are looking to progress but once the political go-ahead is given."

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