Senegal joins oil-producing nations with launch of first offshore field


Senegal has joined the ranks of oil-producing nations with Australian company Woodside Energy on Tuesday announcing the start of production in the West African country's first offshore project. 

After several years of delay, Woodside said it had begun extracting oil from the offshore Sangomar field, about 100 kilometres south of the capital Dakar. 

The floating facility has a storage capacity of 1.3 million barrels. At a depth of 780 metres, it contains both oil and gas and is expected to produce between 100,000 and 125,000 barrels per day. 

High hopes

While Senegal's fossil fuel output is not expected to be as high as that of bigger producers such as Nigeria, there are hopes the oil and gas industry will bring billions of dollars in revenue to the country and contribute to transforming its economy. 

"The start of oil production is very good news,” Charles Thiemele, Africa director of trading company BNG, told RFI.  

“It is the realisation of a project that began many years ago and should help reduce the country's energy bill, which posed many budgetary problems."  

The extracted oil, meeting European and Asian market standards, is intended for export and the national market. 

Thiemele, an oil sector specialist, said Senegal should eventually be able to produce more than 200,000 barrels per day – approaching the production levels of countries like the DRC and Gabon

The first development phase of the oil field, still ongoing with new exploratory drilling planned, is expected to cost between $4.9 and $5.2 billion. 

Joint ownership

Woodside has an 82 percent stake in the deepwater project with the remainder held by Senegal's state-owned energy company Petrosen. 

The discovery of oil and gas fields in 2014 raised great hopes for the economy of Senegal, among the 25 least developed countries in the world. 

Exploitation of Sangomar, however, has faced many delays. Initially set for 2021, it was postponed due to strategic changes and further delayed by the financial troubles of the Australian company FAR, whose shares were eventually bought by Woodside.  

"The start of extraction at the Sangomar field marks the beginning of a new era, not only for our country's industry and economy but especially for our people," said Petrosen managing director Thierno Ly. 

"We have never been so well positioned for opportunities for growth, innovation and success in the economic and social development of our nation." 

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024