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Gambia signs petroleum exploration pact with US company

May 28, 2012, 2:16 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

The Gambia government Friday signed petroleum exploration and production licences, for offshore blocks A2 and A5, with Carmac Energy, a US-based international company.

Carmac Energy is reported to be involved in the exploration, development and production of oil and gas.

Presided over by President Yahya Jammeh, the signing ceremony was held at State House in Banjul, and brought together officials of Carmac Energy and the Gambia government.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, President Jammeh said the fact that his government attaches great importance to petroleum exploration and development in The Gambia is an open secret.

This, he went on, was why the Gambia government put in place some important instruments to provide the necessary conducive environment for the petroleum business, especially in the upstream in The Gambia.

Underscoring the importance of energy to the socio-economic development of The Gambia, Jammeh said Africa should have cheap and affordable energy to become free from hunger and poverty.

He recalled that the Gambia government had, in 2003, taken a bold step in carrying out proprietary offshore 3D seismic data acquisition in the ultra-deep waters of The Gambia.

“This resulted in the discovery of a huge petroleum prospect in the offshore, named the Alhamdulillah Prospect; this ignited international oil company interest in The Gambia resulting in the negotiation and signing of the first-ever offshore petroleum licences in 2006,” he added.

According to him, the partnership between the Gambia government and Carmac Energy Company will be of mutual benefit based on the principles of trust, accountability, transparency and sincerity.

“This is a partnership where everybody goes home happy; we do not want to take more than what we supposed to have. We want to make sure that this is a partnership  that is mutually rewarding,” he said, adding that for any partnership to last, it has to be based on trust, transparency, accountability, honesty and sincerity.

Dr Kase Lawal, chairman and chief executive officer of Camac Energy Company, assured the Gambia government of his company’s readiness to work and develop skills and capacity of the local people.

According to him, Gambians will have the opportunity to study petroleum engineering in Texas, USA, through his company’s endowment fund.

“In the 26 years we have been in business, we started as an agricultural commodity company in Texas, USA, and in 1991 we entered our first exploration and production licences in Nigeria together with Conoco Philips, one of the largest oil companies in the world,” Dr. Lawal said.

Also speaking at the ceremony, the minister of Petroleum, Mrs Teneng Ba-Jaiteh, said the offshore area of The Gambia has been divided into six blocks namely, blocks A1 to A6 each of which is approximately 1,300 km sq in size.

“In September 2006 the ultra deep water blocks A1 and A4 were licensed to a Canadian independent oil company which later in 2010 signed a joint operating agreement with African Petroleum Limited, a UK-based international oil company, and the current operator of A1 and A4 licenses,” she explained.

Noting that the Gambia government has an open door policy for all genuine investors who want to invest in the country, Mrs Jaiteh urged the officials of Carmac Energy Company to keep the terms and conditions of the licences, and work closely with her ministry and other stakeholders to ensure that exploration activities are efficiently handled.