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Senegal’s maiden offshore oil production pushed to 2023

By Manon Laplace, in Dakar
Posted on Monday, 25 November 2019 09:54

View of the Cairn Cajun Express drilling platform off Senegal. © Cairn Energy

Senegal’s first offshore oil development has run into trouble. The deepwater oil discovery at Sangomar Block, off the coast of Senegal, will only start operating in 2023 - that’s two years later than originally planned. 

This is the second postponement for the lucrative oil project.

In 2014, Sangomar was billed as the largest conventional oil discovery in the world. Situated 90 kilometres off Senegal’s southern coastline, oil production was initially scheduled to begin in 2021.

  • It was postponed to 2022, but now the first oil barrels from the field will only go to market in the first quarter of 2023. The delay was announced on 19 November by Senegal’s state-owned oil company, Petrosen.

Several state sources are  blaming the delays on changes in “investment strategy for the production, storage, and [the] unloading platform” by the consortium holding the block, which includes the Scottish junior, Cairn Energy, Australia’s Woodside, FAR Limited and Petrosen.

The consortium has decided to purchase an oil storage and offloading production vessel from the Japanese supplier Modec. This comes after discussions to lease the vessel.

100,000 barrels per day

The consortium will provide a $1.2 billion investment in proportion to the shares each party holds, according to a source close to the Presidency in charge of oil issues. They also point out that Petrosen owns 18% of the offshore field.

  • Senegal hopes to pump between 100,000 and 120,000 barrels per day from the Deep Offshore Sangomar and Offshore Sangomar fields, with reserves estimated at 2.5 billion barrels.

There are still a few administrative hurdles to cross. The consortium must first submit a final investment decision to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy on 2 December.

The ministry will then propose a decree to President Macky Sall to authorise the start-up of Sangomar’s operation before Senegal can join the ranks of the world’s oil producing nations.

This article first appeared in Jeune Afrique.

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