West Africa’s upstream oil and gas market has seen significant exploratory success over the years, with the region representing the largest contributor to discoveries by volume across the entire African continent.
Over the last five years, Senegal, Mauritania, Ghana and Ivory Coast have been among the top countries yielding new discoveries, with 2022 bringing in a new wave of both major and independent explorers. Rystad Energy provides insight into the top oil and gas exploration companies enjoying the most upstream success in the region.
British multinational energy company bp has an extensive footprint across the African continent, but its success in west Africa has been praised in particular. According to Rystad, in the last five years, bp has emerged as the most successful explorer in the region, yielding the most discovered hydrocarbon reserves by volume, totaling1.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) from the Orca and Yakaar discoveries offshore Mauritania and Senegal, respectively. What’s more, since 2017, the British major has drilled four wells in west Africa with a finding cost of over $0.50 per boe.
With an active upstream presence across the continent, Italian oil and gas explorer Eni earns the title of drilling the most exploration wells in west Africa (6+ wells), with the bulk of drilling taking place between 2017 and 2022. Having made significant finds across the region – including discoveries in Block CI-101 offshore Ivory Coast, Block 4 offshore Ghana, and Block 15/06 deep offshore Angola in 2021 alone – the major has established itself as a top explorer with a high drilling success rate.
Meanwhile, independent oil and gas company Kosmos Energy has also proven successful on the continent, boasting a strong balance between the number of exploration wells drilled and discovered resources, with efficient finding costs. Since 2017, Kosmos has discovered just short of one billion boe. Having drilled nearly three wells, with the finding cost per boe measured at under $0.50, the company is among the top explorers in the region, with activities in Mauritania, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé and Príncipe, among other African markets.
Senegal’s national oil company (NOC) Petrosen has not only been driving development across the domestic upstream sector, but also has ensured west African NOCs are at the forefront of exploration since 2017. Home to the 15-trillion cubic feet (tcf) Greater Tortue Ahmeyim and the 500-million-barrel Sangomar project, Senegal is one of Africa’s top emerging hydrocarbon markets, with Petrosen taking a proactive approach to incentivizing exploration of the country’s vast resources and promoting collaboration with leading international oil companies.
Finally, Ghanian explorer Springfield E&P continues to make progress across the west African region, discovering just short of 500 million boe over the past five years. In 2019, the company discovered 1.5 billion barrels of oil and 0.7 tcf of natural gas offshore Ghana, making it the first Ghanian independent to drill in deepwater and find hydrocarbons. With the discovery, the company has been focused on expanding its exploration drive, with new discoveries expected to follow.