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Billionaire Gertler Seeks Partner for Potential Congo Oil Find

Billionaire Dan Gertler is looking for partners to develop oil blocks in the Democratic Republic of Congo after seismic studies revealed “a lot” of oil, the director of Gertler’s Oil of DR Congo sprl said.

Exploration by the company shows a geological structure beneath Congo’s Lake Albert that may contain as much as 2 billion barrels of liquid, Oil of DR Congo director Giovanni Pedaci told reporters yesterday in Kinshasa, the capital. The company needs to drill to test how much oil the structure contains, he said.

“To develop a reservoir so big is capital intensive -– two, three, four billion dollars,” Pedaci said at the iPad oil conference. “My shareholders are looking for some people to share the risk.”

Lake Albert straddles the border between Congo and Uganda. Tullow Oil Plc, the U.K. explorer, has already found more than 1 billion barrels of crude on the Ugandan side. The structure beneath the Congolese portion of the lake is “a mirror image” of the Ugandan part, Pedaci said.

Oil of DR Congo completed an eight-month second phase of seismic exploration in August that covered 470 square kilometers (181 square miles) of land and water within blocks 1 and 2, Pedaci said.

“Already we’ve found a lot of oil,” he said.

Rebel groups, unexploded ordnance and disputes with Uganda over the shared border have hampered exploration, Pedaci said.

Congo currently produces about 25,000 barrels of crude per day and is exploring for more throughout the country, which is the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. Parliament is scheduled to consider a new oil law in its current session that began on Sept. 16.

In April, Congo announced it reached a deal with Gertler to purchase another of his oil blocks along the Atlantic coast bordering Angola. Cohydro, Congo’s state-owned oil company, and Sonangol EP of Angola, will develop the block together. Congo hasn’t announced the details of the deal or the purchase price.

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