West Africa evolving as a new natural gas frontier

BP and regional partners Kosmos Energy announce a new natural gas discovery off the coast of West Africa. File photo by James Jones Jr./Shutterstock.

May 9 (UPI) — British energy company BP said Monday its joint effort off the coast of West Africa sets the partnership up for a strong regional position.

The British energy company said it confirmed a “major” discovery of natural gas off the coast of Mauritania and Senegal alongside joint venture partner Kosmos Energy. Named Yakaar-1, the discovery has a preliminary range of around 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Bernard Looney, the CEO of exploration and production for BP, said in a statement the discovery follows a string of earlier successes off the West African coast and sets the partnership up for a more significant presence in the region.

“This discovery marks an important further step in building BP’s new business in Mauritania and Senegal,” he said.

Regional player African Petroleum issued a call in April for potential partners to help share the risk and potential reward from emerging assets in West Africa. Two years ago, the company brought in its counterparts at Ophir Energy to its license area in the Ivory Coast, which eventually led to a multimillion dollar commitment to support a production-sharing contract in the region.

In an annual report, the company said it was looking to capitalize on that momentum. Meanwhile, FAR Ltd., an Australian company with a strong regional portfolio, has described the broader Mauritania-Senegal-Guinea-Bissau basin as an exploration “hot spot.”

Kosmos Energy Chairman and CEO Andrew Inglis said his company is six-for-six with its exploration and appraisal efforts so far off the regional coast, which means West Africa could emerge as a hub for liquefied natural gas.

“The result also confirms our view of the potential scale of the petroleum system offshore Mauritania and Senegal,” he said.

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