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imageLUANDA: Angola has over seven billion barrels of oil potential in onshore blocks and production rights will soon go on sale, state-owed company Sonangol said Monday.

"The ten blocs that we will award have great potential, with on average 700 million barrels each," said Severino Cardoso, head of exploration at the firm.

"But that can increase with more exploration," he told a news conference after an information session with prospective investors.

Earlier this month Sonangol announced ten new blocks -- its first major onshore reserves -- would be concessioned before the end of the year.

The new wells would boost its current production of 1.7 million barrels a day and 12.6 billion barrels in proven reserves, according to the petroleum ministry.

"Several foreign companies have shown interest in these blocks," said Suzel Alves, the firm's director of negotiations, calling on local companies also to invest in the sector.

State-owned Sonangol will still own the blocks -- seven of which are located in the Kwanza Basin and three in the Congo Basin -- but firms will be granted exploration and production rights.

Exploration is set to start in 2015.

"We will do studies on five other blocks which will be part of a second auction, but only around two-and-a-half to four years from now," said Paulino Jeronimo, one of the firm's executive committee members.

Angola lags behind Nigeria as Africa's biggest producer of crude.

Oil accounts for about 96 percent of its exports and 46 percent of gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.

The Angolan economy grew by 5.6 percent in 2013. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that oil will help Angola's economy grow by 6.3 percent in 2014.