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High hopes for Senegal oil reservoir discovery

Oil reservoir discovery off Senegal could house significant potential for the area

An apparently-substantial oil discovery off Senegal could extend west Africa's oil province to its western tip. Cairn, the Scotland, UK, based explorer, said in October that its FAN-1 well found an oil reservoir which has "significant potential as a standalone discovery".

The well found a net 29 metres of oil reservoir in a zone of more than 500 metres, with no water-contact and with oil gravity ranging from 28°- 41° API. The firm estimated that FAN-1 discovered oil-in-place resources of 250 million barrels with a 90% probability, or 950m barrels at P50 or 2,500m barrels at P10. 

The well was drilled about 100 km offshore, in water 1,427 metres  deep. It lies in the Sangomar Deep block, one of three contiguous blocks off Dakar held by Cairn as operator. Interests in the three - Sangomar, Sangomar Deep and Rufisque - are Cairn, 40%, ConocoPhillips, 35%, Australia's FAR, 15%, and state company Petrosen, 10%. 

The well, drilled by Transocean's Cajun Express semi-submersible, was Cairn's first in Senegal. The company said it will go on to drill its planned second well in the same block, SNE-1, where the top-hole section has already been sunk. The FAN-1 discovery will see more activity next year.

Shares in FAR, the smallest participant in the licence, tripled in price as news of the discovery leaked out. FAR says there are 11 prospects across the three blocks, with sizes extending to 630m barrels. The company, with no production, also holds exploration interests in Kenya, Guinea-Bissau, the AGC area held jointly by Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, and Australia.

FAN-1 was Senegal's first deep-water well, and the first offshore well in the country for more than 20 years. Wells drilled by an ExxonMobil forerunner in the early-1970s found non-commercial oil in the Rufisque Dome structure, in the Rufisque licence, and hydrocarbons have also been tested in the coastal onshore.

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