West Africa could be set for another wave of exploration activity as oil and gas independents have taken up positions in some of the relatively less explored countries in West Africa that are likely to emerge as the next frontiers in oil and gas exploration.
Although Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria are likely to account for the bulk of exploration expenditure in the oil and gas upstream segment in West Africa, more independents are starting to pay attention to countries such as The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Liberia, says Ecobank Research in its energy note on 22 April 2014.
Exploration in these countries could potentially lead to the discovery of more oil and gas reserves in West Africa. Over the past few years, Independents such as UK-listed Tullow Oil, American explorer ConocoPhillips and Canadian junior Simba Energy have engaged in deals worth over US$ 200 million in cash and US$ 500 million when commitments towards exploration and drilling spend are included.
The report notes that these acquisitions are likely to accelerate the pace of exploration activity in these countries in 2014 as the new buyers seek to fulfil exploration obligations in their concession agreements, adding that as Tullow prepares to drill its first well in Guinea in the second quarter of 2014, the success of this project could secure the prospects of this region for crude oil and gas reserves.
Last week, United States-based CAMAC Energy Inc. said it had identified 10 exploration prospects and 12 leads in Nigeria, and has currently high-graded three prospects containing unrisked prospective resources in excess of 200 million bbls of oil each.
The company, which explores for oil and gas mostly in Nigeria, said current efforts are focused on determining the first exploration well location to be drilled in 2015, according to an update on the company’s operations published on Tuesday on its website.
Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, has the largest conventional reserves in Africa and in the top 10 globally for oil reserves, with significant heavy oil yet to be tapped in the Benin basin, which is one of the world’s largest heavy oil belts in the world after Canada and Venezuela.
The Northern Offshore Energy Searcher drillship is currently located offshore Cameroon, where it is awaiting final clearance by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to enter Nigeria and commence drilling operations at the Oyo Field, CAMAC Energy said, adding that the drilling rig is anticipated to arrive at the field by the end of April.
Segun Omidele, senior vice president of exploration and production, said CAMAC Energy’s continued focus was to improve its current production and cash flow, while making solid progress identifying and developing our world-class, high-impact exploration prospects and leads.
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