As a country, Senegal had largely been overlooked by the oil and gas industry


In 2014, Cairn and its joint venture partners made one of the world’s biggest oil discoveries and this was followed by Kosmos with significant gas discoveries.  “The region has now evolved from a frontier to an emerging hydrocarbon opportunity attracting the attention of the global industry,” Eric Hathon, exploration director at Cairn Energy, said. “In the last three years we have operated three safe and successful drilling programmes and laid the foundation for a multi-phase development plan.”

Dakar, where Cairn has an office and also built a supply base in the international port, is an attractive and exciting place to operate.  “We have been greatly encouraged and supported by the Senegalese authorities who fully recognise that a sustainable industry is potentially transformational for the country” Hathon added.


Developing region

Given that the industry is relatively new, local industry expertise is just starting to develop and creating capacity through training and education is a key part of operations.  “We are committed to delivering lasting and social economic benefits in Senegal, including, energy security and revenues, employment, development of an infrastructure and social investment,” Hathon continued. “Cairn’s belief is that the discovery and development of sustainable oil production will greatly benefit the national economy and local population. The President of Senegal, who has an industry background having led the national oil company, Petrosen, has established Cos-Petrogaz to advise the government along with the Energy Ministry on the strategic direction and policy for the development of hydrocarbons.”

Since Cairn’s initial investment and the major discoveries, Senegal has moved from having no oil presence to becoming established as one of the top ten countries for oil and gas resources in Sub-Saharan Africa in the last five years. “We are proud to have opened up a new oil province and look forward to continuing to work with the government to deliver lasting and positive social and economic benefits,” Hathon said.


Can you tell me how the operation is progressing?

The field development concept for the SNE discovery has been selected and the joint venture is now focused on development, planning milestones leading up to first oil expected in 2021-2023. “We are focused on the Evaluation Report, which will outline the basis of commerciality of the project,” Hathon explained. “Key work is also progressing on detailed concept and front-end engineering and design with preferred contractors beginning in the second half of 2018. The Exploitation Plan, outlining the full life of the development plans and options is also targeted for submission in the second half 2018. Government approval is targeted for the end of 2018, with the final investment decision thereafter.”

Cairn is currently operating with 40 per cent working interest in the three blocks alongside Woodside with 35 per cent, FAR with 15 per cent and the Senegal National Oil Company, Petrosen with 10 per cent.

According to Hathon, the Atlantic margin is a key area of exploration focus and Cairn continually review suitable opportunities in the wider region.

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