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Senegal and Mauritania projects make headway

BP's Greater Tortue project already has the green light, and Woodside's SNE development is poised to be next

Development of Africa's most westerly hydrocarbons province is gathering pace. BP has taken a positive final investment decision (FID) on its gas project straddling the Mauritania/Senegal border, while Australian independent Woodside is promising the same for its SNE Senegalese project by mid-2019.

The FID made by BP and its partner, UK independent Kosmos for the Greater Tortue/Ahmeyim project—well flagged in advance—followed the 21 December formal signature of a bilateral framework accord between the governments of Mauritania and Senegal on how to develop and share the spoils from the gasfield they share.

Plans are already well in motion for the development, from which BP plans to start producing 2.5mn t/yr of LNG via a floating facility in 2022, based on total gas resources of around 15tr ft3. BP will be the sole buyer for the gas.

BP expects project execution to commence in Q1 2019, once final agreements and approvals are obtained, but front-end engineering and design (FEED) is already under way.

French/US engineering firm TechnipFMC was awarded the FEED contract for the project's floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) facility. Norway's Golar LNG has received the go-ahead to provide the FLNG facility, using its model based on a converted LNG carrier.

Italy's Saipem and France's Eiffage Genie Civil Marine have been awarded work on the LNG hub and terminal for the development. That centres on a breakwater to protect the FLNG facility around 10km (6 miles) off the Senegalese town of Saint-Louis, close to the border.

While most of the gas produced will be exported, the project design also provides for the supply of gas to Mauritania and Senegal. Their intergovernmental agreement sets the financing terms for the creation of two companies to handle these domestic sales, as well as terms for work to start on production systems and the framework for taxing project sub-contractors.

Thus far, details on the December accord remain scant. However, the countries have already agreed to split revenues from the development 50/50 for the first few years of production.

BP could expand the project to as much as 10mn t/yr of LNG later, if the region realises its potential. BP's partner Kosmos Energy has estimated that the wider gas complex could hold more than 25tr ft3 of gas.

Further north, away from Tortue in Mauritania's deep offshore, Total has secured exploration and production contracts for C-15 and C-31 blocks, south of the C-18, C-7 and C-9 blocks that it already holds.

Woodside on course for FID

Meanwhile, to the south, in Senegal, Woodside has begun FEED on the SNE field development, 100km off Dakar. The Australian firm took over from the UK's Cairn Energy as operator in 2018 and is planning an FPSO-based project that will provide for both oil exports and the supply of gas to Senegal.

"Phase 1 of the development will target an estimated 230mn bl of oil resources from the lower, less complex reservoirs and an initial phase in the upper reservoirs," the company said in a December statement. The FPSO is expected to have a capacity of some 100,000bl/d, with first oil production scheduled for 2022

"The FEED work involves undertaking activities required to finalise the costs and technical definition for the proposed development to enable a final investment decision, targeted for mid-2019," Woodside said.

The subsea FEED contract for SNE Phase 1 was awarded in December to Subsea Integration Alliance, which comprises OneSubsea, Schlumberger and Subsea 7. Woodside plans to award further FEED contracts in early 2019.

The SNE project is part of the Rufisque Offshore, Sangomar Offshore and Sangomar Deep Offshore (RSSD) joint venture. Woodside has a 35pc stake, Cairn has retained its 40pc stake. Australia's Far (15pc) and state energy firm Petrosen (10pc) are the other partners.

Gambia's teething problems

Across the maritime border from the SNE development, the Gambia has been hoping to emulate Senegal's explorers to its prospective offshore blocks, but the tiny country so far has drawn a blank. Far reported in November that its Samo-1 well-the first to be drilled offshore in the Gambia for four decades-came up dry. The Australian firm said it planned to carry out further drilling in 2019.

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