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Image courtesy of Marathon Oil.

Marathon Oil signed an exploration and production-sharing contract (EPSC) for Gabon offshore Block G13 Monday.

The block, named Tchicuate, is located in Gabon’s deepwater, presalt play and was purchased by the company’s wholly owned subsidiary Marathon Oil Exploration.

Marathon was the highest bidder during Gabon’s licensing round in October 2013.

The Tchicuate Block covers 275,000 acres with water depths ranging from about 3,250 ft (990 m) to 8,250 ft (2,515 m).

It is located approximately 50 miles (80 km) off the coast of Gabon and near proven shallow water, presalt oil discoveries.

Marathon Oil holds a 100 percent participating interest and operatorship in the block.

If the block is developed, the Republic of Gabon will assume a 20 percent financed interest in the project once production starts.

Gabon holds additional rights to participate in the block in the future as a co-investor.

According to the Oil & Gas Journal (OGJ), Gabon had 2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves at the end of 2012, the fifth largest reserve in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The country’s oil production fell by around a third from 1997 to 2012 from a peak 370,000 bpd to 244,000 bpd.

Marathon reported a 27 percent rise in profits in the second quarter as production in the US grew and prices went up.