In March 2002, U.K.-independent Premier Oil announced the results of its first exploratory Well on the Sinapa prospect (Block 2) offshore Guinea-Bissau. The Sinapa-1 exploratory well has been designated plugged and abandoned with oil shows. Despite the disappointing results, Premier Oil plans to retain its acreage in Guinea-Bissau, and is in the process of reviewing seismic data on its holdings. In addition, Premier Oil plans to drill exploration wells, Eirozes and Espinafre, towards the end of 2006. The national oil company of Guinea-Bissau, Petroguin, is planning to offer the countrys new deep-water acreage to prospective investors. Exploration activity in the region has sparked interest in the remaining 11 offshore blocks.
In July 2005, The Gambia awarded Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) one of The Gambias six oil exploration blocks. The Gambia gave the award to PNOC without tender, or a technical review of the companys capabilities. Amerada Hess (80 percent interest) and Sterling Energy (20 percent) hold the rights to The Gambias Deepwater PPL Block. The License has been issued for six years and the companies are currently finalizing interpretation studies and evaluating options for a 3D seismic data acquisition.
In Benin, U.S.-based independent Kerr-McGee has exploration plans for Block 4, which include 3D seismic research and an anticipated drilling in late 2006. Kerr-McGee (Operator) holds a 40 percent interest in the block and is joined with partners Kosmos Energy (40 percent) and Malaysias Petronas (20 percent). In neighboring Togo, Petronas and Hunt Oil are exploring for oil. Hunt Oil signed a PSC with Togo in late July 2002 for the countrys first deepwater well. In addition, Togo awarded Hunt Oil the exclusive rights to the countrys entire offshore area. The contract area, previously divided into 15 blocks, covers 1,570 square miles.