Top 5 Licensing Rounds to Watch in West Africa

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With as many as 12 licensing rounds expected to close in West Africa in the coming months, interest from international oil companies (IOC) is expected to bring significant investment into the region’s exploration and development sectors.

Following the recent discoveries of sizeable oil and gas plays throughout the continent, new licensing rounds are expected to position West Africa as a frontier exploration hub and usher in a new era of industry growth, energy security and socioeconomic development.

Sierra Leone

Having launched its fifth licensing round in 2022, Sierra Leone has sought to advance its oil and gas industry by inviting investors to engage and participate in a licensing round that has put on offer over 63,000km2 of highly prospective acreage.

Boasting competitive fiscal conditions, a transparent and stable government, high-quality data and reprocessing handling capabilities, as well as world-class conjugate discoveries, Sierra Leone’s Director General of the Petroleum Directorate, Foday B.L. Mansaray, invited investors during this year’s Invest in African Energy reception in London on 19 January to engage in the country’s licensing round through block and technical data acquisition.

Nigeria

Boasting extensive 2D and 3D seismic data coverage – including multi-beam and analogue data – and covering an area of approximately 6,700km2, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), in collaboration with the country’s Government, is expected to hold a mini-bid round for seven offshore blocks in an attempt to further the development of the West African country’s highly prospective petroleum basin.

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Having invited pre-qualification applications in late-January 2023, the NUPRC is expected to provide further details and a roadmap for the bid round in due course.

Guinea-Conakry

Despite a lack of commercially exploitable oil discoveries, Guinea-Conakry’s hydrocarbon industry is poised for growth in the coming years following a series of sizeable offshore discoveries in the West African MSGBC region.

With its proposed 22-block licensing round covering an area of 55,000km2, Guinea-Conakry is well-positioned to take advantage the immense discoveries being made across the offshore MSGBC Basin, allowing the country to participate in the region’s ongoing hydrocarbon boom.

Guinea-Bissau

In the wake of numerous sizeable discoveries in neighboring Senegal and The Gambia’s offshore acreage, Guinea-Bissau is currently ramping up exploration through the introduction of a special deepwater tender round. With field maps showcasing an estimated 100 million barrels of oil, the West African country’s Ministry of Energy, Industry and Natural Resources has opened five blocks for bidding.

Ghana

Boasting over 660 million barrels of proven oil reserves, Ghana’s Ministry of Energy is currently preparing to offer new oil and gas exploration blocks to bidders in the county’s eastern and western offshore basins through an upcoming licensing round available to operators through direct negotiations. Despite limited success seen in Ghana’s first oil and gas licensing round in 2020, oil production in the country is expected to increase by up to 420,000 barrels per day in 2023, with the West African country serving as the eight-largest oil producer in Africa.

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Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen is a Video Editor and Content Writer at Energy Capital & Power. He holds an Honours Degree in Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town and is currently undergoing his Masters Degree. Born in Pretoria and raised internationally, he has been living in Cape Town since 2013.

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