Active in the region are several international oil majors namely, Australia-listed, FAR; supermajors Shell, TotalEnergies, Exxonmobil and bp; London-listed, Harbour Energy (previously, Premier Oil); Norway’s PetroNor; Iraq’s Star Oil; China’s Addax Petroleum; Malaysia’s Petronas; America’s Kosmos Energy; Algeria’s Sonatrach; London-listed, Capricorn Energy and; Ireland’s Tullow Oil – the latter two currently in the process of merging.
For the lucrative region, the 2022 event will attract a slate of investors, new and established from across the globe – new licensing opportunities luring international oil companies (IOCs) to the table for this unprecedented year for both the region and industry. On this note, here is what you need to know about the latest licensing rounds across the MSGBC region.
A partner of Energy Capital & Power for the event, Mauritania’s National Oil Company (NOC), La Société Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures (SMHPM) has released a record 28 new offshore blocks for bidding this year, numbered 1 through 36 and surrounding the existing C-7, C-8, C-10, C-12, C-15 and C-31 blocks operated by bp, Capricorn Energy, Shell and TotalEnergies. The country’s known megafinds include over 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas in C-8’s BirAllah and Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) fields.
Senegal’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy launched its first major offshore licensing round with twelve blocks in early 2020, set to be followed by a second potentially larger round this year whose details await announcement– likely by the end of July. A regional industry leader, Senegal has seen over 160 exploration wells drilled with a hydrocarbons sector stretching back to the mid-1980s. Its notable reserves discovered in the past decade include 500 million barrels of oil at Woodside’s Sangomar field, 15 tcf of natural gas at bp’s GTA (shared with Mauritania), and 20 tcf of natural gas at bp’s Yakaar-Teranga.
The Gambia is approaching its second major licensing round – six blocks are already active, to be followed by five offshore blocks and two onshore blocks set for release this year. Bidding for these new blocks is expected to see interest from international megafirms following the announcement by FAR of a potential 1.5 billion barrels of oil unearthed in Gambian blocks A2 and A5, earlier this year. FAR is currently farming down its stake in this discovery, further opening up the field.
Guinea-Bissau’s Ministry of Energy, Industry and Natural Resources has recently opened up five blocks for bidding, under a special deep water tender round – noting that the Basin’s largest oil reserves in Senegal and The Gambia have been discovered in these comparable deep-water zones. Since national law states that no single operator may operate more than three blocks domestically, this development flags a key opportunity for a diversification of the current slate of oil majors in-country, across its 11 active blocks. Whilst early-stage drilling has not revealed any mega reserves to date, both oil and gas are known to be present, with fields mapped containing up to 100 million barrels of oil.
The most nascent player in the region’s hydrocarbons surge, Guinea-Conakry has seen five wells drilled to-date with no commercially viable oil or gas uncovered. However, with bidding terms being finalized on a 22-block licensing round, the country is now positioned for growth in partnership with a suite of megafirms currently entering the country to continue HyperDynamics and TotalEnergies’ earlier works. Under Precept 3 of the nation’s Natural Resource Charter, renewed exploration is a key priority for Guinea-Conakry, having already doubled its national petroleum budget in 2019, as a promising move towards expanding beyond the 55,000km2 territory, already covered.