By Omar Bah
Yesterday, the Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Fafa Sanyang confirmed to The Standard government will soon open bidding for the newly available offshore block A1 at Africa Oil Week 2021.
“We are preparing the documents for the bidding. It is free but it has a process that bidders should follow but at every stage we will keep the population posted,” Minister Sanyang said.
Minister Sanyang said the announcement was made at the Africa Energy Conference attended by governments and industries.
The ministry also announced it has appointed Addleshaw Goddard to provide legal support throughout the implementation of the Licensing Round.
Prospective bidders are urged to form their own views as to what information is relevant and make their own investigations, projections and conclusions and consult their advisers to verify independently such information, and to obtain any additional information that it may require, prior to submitting any proposal.
The A1 offshore block is free for licensing after BP agreed to a $29.3 million settlement for failing to meet its drilling obligations in the block.
BP was awarded the A1 offshore block over two years ago. At the time, BP said it would first carry out an environmental impact assessment, followed by two years of drilling, exploration, and development of the first well.
The block was a disputed area as Block A1, along with Block A4, was previously held by African Petroleum. The Gambian government in 2017 said it had ended talks with the company for the extension of exploration rights over these two blocks, stripping the company of its rights in the blocks.
Since the July 2019 effective date, BP had been performing the necessary prerequisite tasks and obligations in view of drilling an exploration well. In particular, BP acquired and reprocessed 2D and 3D data and conducted an environmental impact assessment.
However, the commitment to drill an exploration well remained outstanding. In early 2020, BP suspended plans to drill a well by the end of the year due to Covid-19.
In July 2020, the oil major informed the Ministry that it would not be able to drill a well in the A1 Block due to a change in its corporate strategy towards low carbon energy.