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Angola oil minister says COVID-19 delays privatisation push

The coronavirus pandemic has delayed Angola's efforts to privatise parts of its oil-dependent economy, Mineral Resources and Petroleum Diamantino Azevedo told trade publication Africa Oil and Power in an interview published on Tuesday.

LONDON, Oct 20 (Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic has delayed Angola's efforts to privatise parts of its oil-dependent economy, Mineral Resources and Petroleum Diamantino Azevedo told trade publication Africa Oil and Power in an interview published on Tuesday.

However the country still aimed list shares in its state oil company before the end of 2022, Azevedo added, as the country faces a crippling debt pile and dwindling oil production.

"The pandemic has affected all spheres of the national economy, especially the oil and gas sector," Azevedo said.

"It is evident that the lack of market stability and the poor visibility of the immediate future has delayed the process of privatisation of the assets linked to the services subsector of the oil and gas industry."

Africa's number two oil exporter, under new leadership since 2017, has sought to streamline the bloated state institution and drum up more foreign investment through a transparency and anti-corruption drive.

But the onset of COVID-19 halted oil exploration for months earlier this year and hollowed out demand for Angolan oil.

Angola's own forecasts show oil production within current projects drying up by around 2040, and the country has drawn up a roadmap for an investment and exploration push to discover up to 57 billion barrels of crude oil and 27 trillion cubic feet of gas within the next five years.

Sonangol, the heart of the economy with vast business operations across the oil sector and even in real estate and banking, has made little progress in selling off key assets but was on track for its partial IPO, Azevedo said.

"In the medium term, we foresee finishing the restructuring process for Sonangol, with the dispersion of part of its stock exchange capital by 2020. In this same period, the privatisation program of the company's non-core assets should be executed."

(Reporting By Noah Browning; editing by David Evans)

((noah.browning@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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