Mr. Kabba used the occasion to announce the re-opening of Sierra Leone’s Fourth Licensing Round for oil and gas exploration, following six months of wide-ranging consultations with multi-faceted actors in the industry, including major and independent oil companies.
Mr. Kabba informed the audience that the consultations had revealed the following: Inventors, with whom the Directorate spoke, recognize the proven nature of Sierra Leone working hydrocarbon system; License round participants are looking to a much broader range of prospectively than was offered in the Fourth Licensing Round, covering a divergence of geographic locations play types and water depths; Significantly, interest as shown, particularly among the major international oil companies consulted, in water depths in excess the major 2,500 meters , the boundary between deep , and ultra-deepwater; and Potential investors acknowledge that their understanding of Sierra Leone’s prospectively will benefit from working with the world-class inventory of seismic, gravity, magnetic and well data and studies owed but the Government.
Based on investors’ comments, the Government concluded thus: Investor’s interest extends to multiple areas offshore Sierra Leone, which cover a wider footprint than was initially offered for Licensing; Conditions offered pursuant to the original tender process no longer provide the Government of Sierra Leone with a structure broad enough to explore the full range of investor interest that has been expressed; and in as much as significant interest was shown on our ultra-deep waters the numbers of companies with the financial and technical. Capability to operate safely on such ultra-deepwater areas is very limited.
The Government then made the decision, consistent with the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of 2011, to open the entire Sierra Leone offshore to exploration and adopt a hybrid Direct and Open system for Tendering which will enable the Directorate to rigorously match the technical skills and financial capacity of investors to the challenges and opportunities of each type of exploration targeted.
The Government’s decision expands the scope of investor opportunities in Sierra Leone’s oil and gas programme. Investors have broadly accepted that the proven nature of Sierra Leone’s working hydrocarbon system is based on the fact that wells already drilled have encountered hydrocarbons, and these earlier exploration activities have left a rich, world-class inventory of geophysical and well data-the full complement of which is available for prospective investors to license.
Mr. Kabba expressed the government’s innovative, flexible, direct and open tendering process will foster a new dynamism in oil and gas exploration in the region, and pledged a level playing field for all investors, as well as the transparency and accountability that are required for investor confidence. He stressed that the Government of Sierra Leone is to course to become the “Standard” in the governance of this sector, which will ensure the kind of predictability and mutuality of benefits for the country and its investors, especially in the creation of sustainable opportunities for the people of Sierra Leone along the sector value chain.