No License, No Oil Exploration

By Abdoulie John

The Gambia’s Information Minister has debunked claims that Africa Petroleum still has the exploration rights on blocks A1 and A4.

Minister Demba Jawo debunked assertions made by Africa Petroleum Chief Executive Officer Jens Pace that his company’s 7-year license has not expired.

“What happened with Africa Petroleum is that they had a license, and it has expired,” Jawo told journalists at a press conference last week.

Jens Page had reacted to the Gambia government’s earlier statement opening bids for blocks A1 and A4. Africa Petroleum, he told Freedom Newspaper, “has not received formal notification initiating the termination process as detailed in the licenses, and therefore retains its rights under the A1 and A4 licenses.”

But Minister Jawo said the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has decided not to renew the African Petroleum’s license. “As long as they have no license, I cannot imagine them operating in the country,” he said.

In an attempt to cut the debate short, Jawo added “No license, no operation.”

Meanwhile, the Presidency has made it clear that licenses for blocks A2 and A5 were acquired by FAR Ltd and Erin Energy for offshore test drilling, leaving four other remaining (A1, A3, A4 and A6) entirely open for bidding.

The tiny West African nation’s coastline has been identified by many companies as a new battleground for oil exploration. A situation that seems to have raised big hopes for the country’s future as Gambians are yet to recover from 22 years of the Jammeh dictatorship.


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