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    Cnooc Enters Blocks Off West Africa


Drilling is expected to get underway early next year.

by: Joseph Murphy

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Cnooc Enters Blocks Off West Africa

Chinese offshore operator Cnooc is set to acquire a 55.6% stake in two licences off the coast of Guinea Bissau from Sweden’s Svenska Petroleum, the latter reported on August 5.

The sale at the Sinapa and Esperanca areas, once cleared by local authorities, is expected to close in the third quarter, Svenska said in a statement. The company will continue as operator of the projects with a 23% interest, with its ASX-listed partner Far having 21.4%.

Sinapa and Esperanca span almost 5,000 km2 of acreage, with the former hosting the Sinapa oil discovery made by UK-based Premier Oil in 2004. Svenska won rights to the blocks more than a decade ago, and plans to drill its first wildcat early next year targeting the Atum prospect at Sinapa, provided it can secure a rig and necessary approvals.

Cnooc’s interest will fall to 50% in the event of a commercial discovery at the licences, Svenska said. In a separate notice, however, partner Far said the Chinese operator would have an option to assume operatorship of the projects after the upcoming drilling campaign is wrapped up.

“Attracting a national oil company such as Cnooc shows the confidence that another major company has in Far’s Guinea-Bissau acreage, Far’s managing director Cath Norman said, noting that the Beijing oil giant had brought with it “a wealth of technical and operational expertise and experience.”

Far describes the Greater Atum prospect as an analogue to the SNE oil and gas discovery off Senegal.