February 1, 2018 / 12:04 PM / a year ago

Sonangol to award rare fuel import tender by mid-February

LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Angolan state oil company Sonangol has issued a rare tender for refined fuels, it said on Thursday, in a move that will widen the number of traders in the OPEC member's domestic market.

In a statement confirming an earlier Reuters report, the company said that it issued a tender in January to buy gasoline, diesel and marine diesel for the domestic market.

The tender opened on Jan. 17 and closed on Wednesday. Sonangol said that the three most competitive proposals would enter a negotiation phase and the tender is likely to be awarded by mid-February.

Trading house Trafigura dominated Angola's domestic fuels market for years, though Vitol recently muscled into the potentially lucrative market with a deal to supply gasoline.

Sonangol said its tender stemmed from "the urgency of ensuring timely delivery from the second quarter of 2018 without constraints on the internal market".

President Joao Lourenco has been making his mark on the oil exporting nation since gaining power last September. He has sacked the previous head of Sonangol, promised economic reform and ordered a review of the oil industry.

Sonangol described the process as "part of a medium-term strategy to bring greater competitiveness to the Angolan oil import market".

While it said it issued a similar import tender in 2015, trading sources describe Angola's domestic fuels market as secretive and tough to penetrate.

"Just like today, in 2015, the largest trading companies and oil companies with refining apparatus were also invited to participate in the tender," Sonangol said. (Reporting By Libby George; Editing by David Goodman)

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