Gambia: Drilling Imminent Offshore

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 The first well offshore The Gambia in nearly 40 years could spud later this month, according to Gambia’s Petroleum Minister Jerreh Barrow.

Australia’s FAR and partner Petronas have contracted the drillship Stena DrillMAX to drill the Samo prospect in offshore block A2, west of Chevron’s 1979 Jammah-1 well.

The Minister, speaking at Spectrum Geo’s Explorers’ Seminar in London last week, pointed out that the deepwater SNE oilfield offshore Senegal to the north is partly on trend with A2.

The Gambia has made available other offshore blocks to exploration, and the government has recently signed an agreement with Spectrum, he added, to acquire new ultra-deepwater seismic and then help coordinate the bidding.

Barrow said the Gambia’s Petroleum Negotiation Committee, with representatives from 10 key government institutions, had been formed a year ago to manage licensing activity.

At the same time, the government has drawn on the experiences of other countries in the area relatively new to offshore E&P, such as Senegal and Ghana.

“One of the lessons we have learned,” he said, “is the need to have knowledge of this sector spread across government institutions so that they can all be positively involved – hence the establishment also of various sub-committees.”

This process has proven to be very helpful in dealings, he added, with, for instance, geophysical services providers.

At the same time the government has drawn up a list of what it considers as 10 credible IOCs to bid for the blocks and will issue clarification over the terms later this month ahead of the deadline for the submission of proposals in mid-November.

This will be followed by a period of evaluation, he said, “then we hope to close the licensing process by the turn of the year.”

Barrow claimed that the surrounding MSGBC offshore basin, extending more than 500,000 sq km (193,051 sq mi), was now the most exciting anywhere, with the 10 consecutive wells drilled in recent years all successful.

Studies suggest that the main source rock is in the Cenomanian-Turonian interval that holds the SNE reservoir, he said, with potential for gas in the Jurassic/base Cretaceous level.

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