British Petroleum company (BP) has recently organised a meeting with the
coastal community of Sanyang and other settlements along the coastline in Kombo
South as the oil giant continues its environmental and social impact assessment
studies of coastlines following a signature on exploration of Block A1 oil well
project in the country.
The meeting was attended by members of the Village Development Committees (VDC), a representative of the alkalo of Sanyang, fishermen, Fire and Sea Rescue Security Personnel, staff of the Fisheries Department and the community’s environmentalists. It has, however, raised concerns over potential environmental impact of the planned oil exploration and also the possible hampering of the livelihood of the fishermen who are daily engaged in their fishing activities as a source of living.
The government of The Gambia in April 2019 signed a Petroleum Exploration, Development and Production Licence (PEPLA) with the British Petroleum oil company (BP) for the designed drilling of one or more exploration wells of an approximate dimension of 100 kilometers off the coast of The Gambia in Block A1 including the water depth of 2,200 meters deep; in which the exploration drilling of the first oil well is expected to start in late 2020.
Richards Sampson, an environmental specialist of the British Petroleum (BP), at the meeting said the exploration stage for the drilling of the Block A1 oil well is expected to take only 30 to 40 days period, adding that employees stationed at its drilling points in Senegal and Mauritania will be shipped and use as work force in The Gambia.
He stated that this will require the company to spend millions of pounds in order to station a permanent drillship point and also make employment for locals, putting into account it is only on exploration stage and not the actual development of oil drilling.
He said BP has appointed an independent, specialist environmental consultancy (AECOM), who he mentioned will develop the ESIA report in conjunction with local environmental and social specialists for the cordial management of the environment during the course of the oil exploration drilling activity.
“We are here today meeting with the local coastal communities who are likely to be affected by the exploration of the oil offshore which is expected to take only 30 to 40 days period of drilling as to ascertain its further development,” he said. “So we have already put in place environmental guidelines of the company in making sure that there is 500 meters exclusive safe zone around the drillship for other fishing vessels. There will be a total filled up of the potential oil well shortly after its exploration in order to avoid the destruction of the drilled place. ”