First oil well in 40 years scheduled for offshore Gambia

FAR Ltd., a company focused on West Africa, said it plans to drill into a basin off the coast of Gambia that could hold hundreds of millions of barrels of oil.

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After reviewing seismic data, FAR Ltd. said it selected a final well location for its first drilling effort in the Samo prospect off the coast of Gambia.

Seismic data is used to get a better understanding of the reserve potential in frontier prospects. Samo is located in the broader Mauritania-Senegal-Guinea-Bissau-Conakry basin and could hold as much as 825 million barrels of oil.

Drilling is scheduled for the fourth quarter and last about 40 days. It will be the first well drilled offshore Gambia in 40 years.

“We are very excited to be drilling the Samo prospect, which is a large prospect along trend from the giant SNE oil field,” FAR Managing Director Cath Norman said in a statement. “Given the nine successful wells drilled on the shelf to date in Senegal and into the key reservoirs in the Samo prospect, the geological chance of success for drilling this prospect is high for a frontier exploration well.”

The company and its joint venture partners in March completed a geotechnical study of a 2,900 square mile permit area off the coast of Senegal that includes the flagship SNE oil discovery. The results revealed another 198 million barrels to the estimated 641 million barrels in the best estimate scenario of contingent reserves.

Two Gambian blocks combine for an estimated 1 billion barrels of unrisked barrels of oil and are in close proximity to the SNE oil field offshore Senegal, one of the largest finds in recent years.

Navigating West African waters has proved complex amid disputes over their maritime borders. Those disputes have spilled over into the financial interests of several energy companies looking to exploit the emerging oil prospects off the regional coast.

By Daniel J. Graeber