Exploration activities in The Gambia

During the Fourth Ordinary Session of The Gambia National Assembly, members of Parliament addressed several questions to Minister of Petroleum Honorary, Fafa Sanyang, relating to the ongoing oil exploration on the territory and offshore.

Regarding previous mention of oil being found in two blocks, Minister Sanyang asserted that no oil has been found up to now in The Gambia neither on land or offshore. Pre-drilling geological and geophysical investigations had identified prospects in two blocks and that the operator (FAR Limited) has estimated up to a billion barrels of oil resources. Following corporate communication from the company, there had been some confusion as to whether commercial oil had indeed been discovered. Minister Sanyang added that oil existence can only be confirmed by drilling, an operation which is ongoing in one of the prospects (SAMO-1) since October/November 2018.

Minister Sanyang then addressed the issue regarding African Petroleum’s lawsuit against the state of The Gambia regarding expiration of its licenses on blocks A1 and A4. The licenses had been renewed three times, but as African Petroleum is said to have not fulfilled its drilling obligations, the licenses were not re-conducted. Minster Sanyang is confident that the State acted according to the law in this case and will not face a negative outcome in the ongoing international arbitration.

As for current explorers and operators on the Gambian territory, Minister Sanyang stated that two companies are currently exploring: FAR Limited from Australia and PETRONAS from Malaysia. CAMAC Energy Limited, which became Erin Energy later on, was awarded two blocks licenses but farmed out their rights to FAR in 2017.

Finally, Minister Sanyang reassured the Assembly that there are not maritime border disputes going on with any of the country’s neighbours.
Like the rest of the Mauritania-Senegal-The Gambia-Guinea-Bissau-Guinea-Conakry (MSGBC) basin, The Gambia has received international interest as discoveries were announced in the basin between 2014 and 2016.