Back in 1976, Angola earned its independence from Portugal as a result of the Carnation Revolution. At that time, the Sonangol Group was formed as a result of the split between a subsidiary named Angol and its Portuguese parent company Sacor. The companies were split into two separate companies with the new Angolan government taking control of a new entity called Sonangol U.E.E.
Under the direction of the government, Sonangol has been given authority and responsibility over all of the extraction and production of the government owned oil and natural gas reserves. This would include as much as 5 billion barrels (790,000,000 m3) of offshore and coastal petroleum reserves. While that includes everything that has been discovered to date, there is still plenty of ongoing exploration that continues to uncover new oil fields all the time. It is estimated recent exploration activity is finding new oil reserves that outpace the company’s and its customer’s oil consumption by a factor of 5 to 1.
Of the oil reserves not owned by the state, Sonangol was able to acquire access to key oil reserves in September 2013, followed by a deal that allowed the company to purchase the exploration rights to five onshore oil blocks in Angola, all from the oil giant Marathon Oil for undisclosed amounts. Prior to these purchases, the government was mired in controversy related to the disappearance of US$32 billion of government funds provided by Sonangol. The issue was eventually squelched after the government gave its citizens assurance the funds were used properly.
Sonangol’s headquarters are currently located in the city of Luanda, Angola. The company is being led by Isabel dos Santos (Chairwoman and CEO), who took over after the June 30, 2016 government removal of the entire board of Sonangol due in large part to concerns over the company’s transparency.