A petroleum exploration contract has been signed between the government of The Gambia and BP Plc. This gives legal rights to the British company to explore oil and gas potentials in block A1 in off-shore Gambia.
The signing ceremony was followed by a courtesy call on the President on Tuesday, 30 April. The company is said to be a leading global energy company headquartered in London.
This information of the petroleum license was revealed to the press by Dr. Jonathan Evans, following a closed-door meeting with the president at State House in Banjul.
BP is very excited to make its re-entry into The Gambia, Dr. Evans, V.P. Africa New Ventures said. We were here 30 years ago and now we are back. This is about looking for oil and gas in the deep water where BP would be able to connect the government of the Gambia with our partners at GNPC to explore for oil and if it is successful to develop that oil in the future.
The BP top executive said the project would hit the ground running immediately. He said the works would start with a thorough environmental impact assessment, followed by a two-year period of drilling, exploration, and development of the first well.
However, Dr. Jonathan Evans was quick to call for cautious optimism, emphasizing that the explorative stage is just the beginning and the results could go both ways despite the attractiveness of the zone. He added that it could actually take close to a decade before the country accrues any revenue from the venture.
He said, "It is very important for the viewers to understand that the money wouldn't start flowing tomorrow. It is probably in ten years' time before the revenues would start flowing in."
Minister of Energy and Petroleum expressed satisfaction with the entire process leading to the signing ceremony. He thanked the national negotiating team as well as their international partners for overseeing a very transparent and successful bidding process.
He said: "We are able to achieve our aim; a reputable company - a company that has the capacity, technically and financially to be able to deliver. We are able to get that; we are able to sign a very good license, which is a win-win. And we got the support, internally, from a multi sectoral team who's trained to negotiate and they did a very good negotiation."
Alexander Sarac, the external legal adviser of the Gambia government, lauded the partnership as a great success for the country. Today is the end of a process where this government has shown that it is capable of attracting international investment of the highest category, he said adding that it demonstrates that the country can run a transparent process to attract international investment.