Oil companies prospecting for oil and gas in Africa need to ensure the very highest standards in environmental risk management, Tullow Oil's director of exploration, Angus McCoss said recently.
McCoss said minimizing the companies' footprint through genuine consultation, design and technology is a first step.
"The opportunity is clear - we believe that Africa is an under-explored continent for material oil and gas opportunities; but E&P investment must be responsible and begin by recognizing the difficult legacy that our industry has in Africa," he said.
"Having the means to avert an environmental incident and, if necessary, to recover from one is an absolute pre-requisite for any license to operate," McCoss told Petroleum Review, a publication of the UK's Energy Institute.
He added that it was just as important for the oil companies to ensure that the oil resources which belong to nations and not the oil companies are developed responsibly and sustainably.
Tullow has four ongoing exploration campaigns in Africa with the East African Rifts (onshore Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia) and the East African Transform Margin (offshore Kenya and Mozambique), alongside the West African Transform Margin (offshore Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone) and the African Central Atlantic Margin (offshore Mauritania and Senegal) being the major exploration areas of interest for the UK-based oil company.
McCoss said the major oil discoveries in the East Africa Rift Basins show that oil is not yet at a global peak and commercial opportunities exist for pioneering explorers in Africa.
"It is my belief that, in the long term, the vast gas resource base being discovered in the East Africa Transform Margin will underpin substantial LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) facilities which will be a clean energy supply source for growing Asian demand."
He said the consequent East African regional economic transformation requires the cooperation of nations, peoples, industries, companies and stakeholders from all quarters "if we are to realize shared prosperity from this bold exploration enterprise."