Gambia’s government said on Tuesday it had signed a contract with BP to explore oil and gas off its coast.
Minister of Petroleum and Energy Fafa Sanyang said BP would first carry out an environmental impact assessment at the A1 offshore block.
“After all that they will work on a two-year programme for drilling,” Sanyang told Reuters. “After a specific time, they will work on the financial terms.”
BP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The A1 block was one of two that President Adama Barrow’s government stripped from Norwegian-listed African Petroleum Corporation in 2017, saying the licenses had expired.
The company disputed that and launched arbitration proceedings in October 2017. No resolution has been announced in the case.
The two blocks are thought to contain up to 3 billion barrels of oil and lie next to licences in neighbouring Senegal, where big discoveries have been made.
Barrow’s government is trying to build up Gambia’s oil and gas sector as a way of reviving an economy gutted by more than two decades of autocratic rule under former President Yahya Jammeh, who fled the country in 2017.
Barrow’s office said in a brief statement on Tuesday that he had met BP representatives at the presidential palace but provided no further details.