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Rogers Beall, CEO of AFRICA FORTESA, spoke to Africa Oil & Power about how the historic explorer and producer in Senegal is looking to consolidate its current assets and involve new stakeholders. The company serves as the country’s sole producer, operating the Gadiaga gas field onshore.
What operations do you currently have ongoing in Senegal? Are you seeking partnerships and investment to further develop your assets?
AFRICA FORTESA is producing gas-to-power in Senegal and runs a completely vertical Senegalese staffed and led (125 full-time employees) oil and gas company headquartered in Dakar. Our hands-on operations encompass exploration and production, pipelines and drilling. We own our own onshore drilling rigs and pipelines in Dakar.
We have two onshore permits, a long-term exploitation permit and an exploration permit that is on-trend with the recently discovered Sangomar field, where substantial oil reserves were uncovered in 2014. FORTESA is seeking further new shareholders to join our share capital that is 60% private equity and 40% management and U.S. investors; FORTESA has not sought to farm-down our position in Senegal.
What are the key factors of attractiveness of Senegal’s onshore potential?
For us, it’s that geologically our onshore permits to the north-east of Dakar are deepwater depositions in their natural setting, which are now onshore due to the Dakar volcanic up-lift to our west that allowed Sahara sand to connect the volcanoes in the sea back to land. Deepwater reservoirs normally can be thicker, better sand traps.
Do you believe the Government of Senegal should push for more exploration activities onshore through a licensing round or roadshows?
It’s a difficult time for exploration worldwide. Perhaps the Government is correct to focus on initially adding to Senegal’s proven offshore successes first, where deep-pocketed oil and gas companies can do a good job now, and to focus on the onshore in due time, as product prices come up to break even and mitigate risks of likely thinner onshore
What are your views on Senegal’s gas monetization plan? What main areas of investment are necessary to develop a gas-to-power strategy?
Senegal needs gas reserves to become producible and available for onshore monetization soonest and it’s hard to find the investment needed to install substantial pipelines and systems to distribute gas. Imported liquefied natural gas from other countries just keeps Senegal dependent on the importation, versus becoming energy independent and able to use
Senegal’s own resources for the benefit of domestic markets, including gas-to-power.
As a historic player in Senegal’s oil and gas sector, how do you see it developing in the next ten years? What effect will the current pandemic have on investors’ interest?
We see continued strong investment coming into Senegal this coming decade due to the good geology that allowed sands to become trapped in reservoirs, the now proven petroleum systems from multiple mature source rocks needed to source those reservoirs and available markets to monetize and pay for more private investment.
COVID-19 is a huge setback for all-concerned: the investors who are all now hurting due to losses, as well as the Government, which must take all means to protect its citizens and growing economy. COVID- 19 could not be anticipated adequately and it has not only hurt domestic markets with economic stresses but also investors’ ability to now finance the significant needed risks to convert probable resources into producing reserves for domestic markets.
How does Senegal’s hydrocarbon potential fit its renewable strategy and associated environmental goals?
Senegal has wisely elected to develop as much renewable energy production as prudence will allow: likely close to 30% of demand; beyond that, energy production reliability and consistency requires fuel sources more reliable than the intermittence of wind and sun and it’s logical that cleaner gas fuel is and will continue to be a fuel of choice. Together, these sources of energy will allow substantial reduction of the harmful environmental emissions of burning oils and coal to more than meet Senegal’s mid-term goals of clean development and continually improving economic output for a growing population.