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Dominion Petroleum says it has secured a rig to drill the first well in the Lake Edward Basin of the Albertine Rift. Dominion Uganda has signed a letter of intent with Oil and Gas Exploration Cracow (OGEC), subject to government approval, for a rig to drill Ngaji-1 on Block 4B. The rig is expected to be mobilised in May, with drilling to start in June on the Ngaji (silverback gorilla) prospect. Success will lead to a rapid expansion of exploration and appraisal activity in EA4B and potentially the neighbouring Block 5 in Democratic Republic of Congo (Dominion 46.75%).

Uganda
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Moribund Guinea licenceholder Hyperdynamics has announced the resignation of former UK foreign secretary Lord Owen from its board of directors. Lord Owen joined in September 2009 as the company sought to remake itself under new president and chief executive officer Ray Leonard.

Guinea
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Ghana has sought arbitration from the United Nations under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) over the two countries’ maritime border. The border has never been formally demarcated and the discovery of oil has significantly raised the stakes. Bilateral negotiations have so far failed to resolve the issue and, in November 2011, Ivorian state oil company Petroci redrew its licensing blocks map, delineating five new blocks on the eastern border, straying into what had previously been considered Ghanaian territory.

Ghana
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Tullow Oil has added to its Walvis Basin acreage, taking up to 40% in Block 2012A from Eco Atlantic Oil & Gas. The block lies immediately to the north of Block 2012B, where Tullow farmed in in September 2013 and acquired 1,000km of 2D and 3,000km2 of 3D seismic earlier this year. Initial data mapping has identified four main prospects, inclusing Albatross, a Cretaceous turbidite fan structure, the same play that proved succesful offshore Ghana. Tullow also operates the Kudu gas field offshore southern Namibia, where a gas-to-power development is planned.

Namibia
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Eni has signed a new co-operation agreement with the Republic of Congo, stating its intention to pursue new initiatives in the Congolese coastal basin, which extends from onshore Mayombe to the deep offshore. The agreement was signed in Brazzaville by Congolese hydrocarbons minister André Raphael Loemba and Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi, in the presence of President Denis Sassou Nguesso and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, during an official visit by the premier.

Congo Brazzaville
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US independent Vaalco Energy has launched a new six-well development drilling campaign at the Etame Marin Block. The campaign follows the recent installation of the Etame platform and the Southeast Etame/North Tchibala platform to support production. Vaalco is using the Transocean Constellation II jack-up rig for the drilling work. The new platforms are each equipped with eight well slots, giving Vaalco the option to drill up to five more development wells. The programme aims to increase production to a level close to capacity of the project’s floating production, storage and offloading vessel.

Gabon
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Australia’s Elixir Petroleum has taken over its partner’s stake in Block SL-4 following its failure to pay its share of seismic costs. Elixir issued a notice of default to Prontinal in late September, but was unable to get it to pay the $9m owed. Elixir took over operatorship in February and contracted a 3D seismic survey, which was completed in June. The block was originally awarded to US-based real estate company 8 Investments, sole bidder in the 2002 licensing round.

Sierra Leone
Issue 287 - 27 October 2014

Gabon: Ruche development plan approved

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The Direction Général de Hydrocarbures has approved the development and production plan for the Ruche development on Harvest Natural Resources’ Dussafu Marin permit. The development includes the Ruche A, Ruche B (Tortue), Ruche C (Moubenga) and Ruche D (Walt Whitman) discoveries. The plan is based on a centrally located floating production, storage and offloading vessel with sub-sea wells tied back from each of these discoveries. Front-end engineering design studies are under way and, once these are completed, a final investment decision is scheduled for Q1 2015.

Gabon
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African Petroleum Corporation has signed a contract to acquire more than 1,000km3 of 3D seismic on Block SL-4A-10, offshore Sierra Leone, in addition to the existing 3D coverage. Acquisition is expected to begin in Q3. The company was awarded SL-03 in April 2010, and the adjacent SL-4A-10 as part of Sierra Leone’s third offshore licensing round in 2012. Both licences are in their first exploration period. Exploration offshore Sierra Leone has so far failed to find commercial quantities of oil and gas, but African Petroleum says it has identified a number of prospects.

Sierra Leone
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Statoil has sold down stakes in its operated blocks 38 and 39 in the Kwanza Basin as part of its portfolio management process. Statoil has sold 10% in the two blocks to Ecopetrol. In Block 39 the sale was accomplished through two separate, but simultaneous transactions. Statoil acquired 7.5% from Total under one agreement, then sold a total of 10% through a separate agreement, reducing its net equity by 2.5%.

Angola
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ExxonMobil plans to withdraw from a consortium lined up to explore three oil blocks in South Sudan, according to sources in Juba. The blocks together make up Block B, a 118,000km2 area of Jonglei state divided into three in 2012.“I’ve heard that ExxonMobil have withdrawn from the Total consortium because of the difficulties they’re facing operating in the country,” said an oil industry source in Juba. “Their assessment is that the development of Block B will take forever and there’s so much uncertainty.”

Sudan
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Houston-based Camac Energy has awarded contracts for the acquisition of 2D seismic surveys on Block L1B and Block L16. BGP Kenya Limited will acquire 2D seismic over an area of 700km2 within onshore Block L1B, while Polaris Seismic International will carry out acquisition over an area of 506km2 within Block L16, which lies on and offshore in the area around Malindi. WesternGeco is processing 2D seismic data acquired for Camac over deep offshore blocks L27 and L28 in March 2014.

Kenya
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Tullow Oil announced on 14 July that the Gardim-1 exploration well, drilled on the eastern flank of the Chew Bahir Basin in the South Omo licence had reached a total depth of 2,468 metres without encountering commercial oil. Tullow said the well intersected lacustrine and volcanic formations similar to those found in the Shimela-1 well on the north-western flank of the basin. Minor intervals with thermogenic gas shows were intersected just above basement. Tullow said seismic interpretation continued on separate prospects elsewhere in the licence that would be targeted by the next phase of the Ethiopia exploration campaign.

Ethiopia
Issue 285 - 26 September 2014

Confusion Surrounds Somali contracts

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Somalia’s petroleum ministry says it has no knowledge of plans to review a series of contracts, including an oil exploration agreement with the UK’s Soma Oil & Gas. On 17 September the Financial Times reported that the government planned to rewrite or cancel nine big contracts on the advice of a new donor-backed committee, set up in the wake of scandals at the central bank. However, petroleum ministry director general Farah Abdi Hassan told African Energy: “I’ve seen the Financial Times article. It must come from another part of government, as we don’t have any information on that.” Soma is equally in the dark.

Somalia
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Swala Oil and Gas (Tanzania) has launched an offering of up to 9.6m ordinary shares at TSh500 on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, the first such offering in the oil and gas industry in East Africa. The offer is open from 9 June to 4 July and there is no maximum subscription limit, but a minimum subscription of 100 shares per person is required. The company said it expected to raise between TSh1.6bn and TSh4.8bn. “Together with our current cash, we believe that this will be sufficient to complete our 2014 seismic work programme and to continue our business development programme,” it said.

Tanzania