The Gambia’s presidency has come clean on the issuance of licenses for oil exploration blocks, contradicting earlier reports that contracts have been awarded to some oil companies to conduct offshore test drilling.
“The new administration has not issued any license for petroleum exploration or production,” State House spokesperson Amie Bojang Sissoho told journalists during a press conference last week.
West Africa’s coastline is increasingly becoming a battleground for oil exploration, with the Gambia being the center of oil exploration in the sub-region. The expiration of licenses granted to Africa Petroleum seems to have opened huge opportunities for new comers eying for big deals.
Mrs. Bojang-Sissoho said the existing licenses for blocks A2 and A5 were acquired by FAR Ltd and Erin Energy. But she was quick to announce that four other blocks (A1, A3, A4 and A6) are still open for exploration rights.
President Adama Barrow had earlier vowed that the management of oil licences will be done in accordance with the principles of transparency, for his government will turn its back to the era of opacity, the trademark of Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule. During this period, oil exploration was hidden to Gambians who watched in awe while their resources became exploited and bundled out of the country.