Africa E&P Summit Speaker Ben Sayers, TGS on The Gambia and welcoming Jerreh Barrow, Commissioner for Petroleum to London

Frontier interviewed Ben Sayers, the Director of Business Development for Africa, Mediterranean and Middle East of TGS on The Gambia and welcoming Jerreh Barrow, the Commissioner for Petroleum to Frontier's upcoming Africa E&P Summit, taking place from the 22-23 May 2019. The event offers an excellent platform for African governments and NOC’s to promote and share their exploration opportunities to an engaged, high level audience in the heart of London.

And here is what he had to say;


Tell me a little about your role in TGS and how the company is supporting The Gambia.

My name is Ben Sayers, and I’m the Director of Business Development for Africa, Mediterranean and Middle East. My role involves identifying opportunities in Africa and developing government relationships – particularly by being hands-on in-country – which will enable them to have a prosperous Petroleum E&P sector. This is exactly what TGS has done in supporting The Gambian government by bringing them to the Africa E&P Summit. TGS has worked closely with The Gambia for almost a decade, and now they are on the precipice of commercial hydrocarbon success.


Jerreh Barrow, the Commissioner for Petroleum will be attending Frontier's Africa E&P Summit. What opportunities can we expect him to present to the industry?

Firstly, I’d like to draw to your attention what a great person Jerreh is. I thoroughly enjoy working with him and wish The Gambia all the success possible. Jerreh has an MSc in Geophysics, so it’s great to work with someone who appreciates the data from a technical perspective. I believe Jerreh will be talking about the prospectivity in The Gambia and the interest that has been shown by the industry in the recent mini-license round.


Some 22 companies expressed interest and 10 were shortlisted in the latest licensing round. Are you expecting further block awards from this round?

Definitely. We know that The Gambia has shortlisted companies from the bid submissions and is currently working with them to make sure they are the right fit for the country’s agenda, which is to drill more exploration wells and find the success that we all anticipate.


Late last year, Samo-1 well was drilled in block A2 by Far and Petronas. Why do you feel this didn't repeat the success of SNE-1?

From the seismic data that TGS has access to, it never looked like it was going to repeat the success of the SNE discovery. SNE works largely due to the reservoir sands that ponded on the paleoshelf edge with an unconforming shale layer that seals the reservoir. This is coupled with the charging mechanism allowing the Aptian source rocks to charge via migration through the incised canyons and the dip of the rotated Jurassic block carrying the buoyant oil basin-wards. The same situation was not quite replicated at the Samo-1 location, but TGS has identified multiple other scenarios that we believe when tested would be fruitful.


What has TGS done to help explorers understand plays and prospects in The Gambia?

TGS has been working closely in the MSGBC Basin since the first 3D acquisition in 2010 and have acquired multiple phases of 2D data in the form of our NWAAM 2D programs in collaboration with PGS and GeoPartners. More recently we have also added two new exciting projects to the region, Jaan and the MSGBC MB&SS (Multibeam and Sea Seep). Jaan is a 28,000 km2 3D project that merges in 17,000 km2 of legacy data with over 11,000 km2 of new 2019 vintage of 3D data. The aim of these is to form a fully harmonised, phase, amplitude time and depth migration of the paleoshelf edge that has been key to the SNE and FAN discoveries in Senegal. By better imaging the subsurface feature southward from Senegal through The Gambia into Guinea-Bissau, TGS believes the future activity for prospects and fields will be unlocked. The MSGBC MB&SS Project is currently in acquisition. This project involves acquiring high-resolution bathymetry data using a highly tuned echosounder unit which also penetrate a few metres in to the unconsolidated sea bed. Where hard anomalies are detected, shallow core samples are taken, which we hope will reveal more information regarding the charge of the working petroleum systems we currently know about, while also, hopefully, discovering currently hypothetical source rocks from Jurassic and older intervals.


Are we expecting future licensing rounds to include ultra deep blocks?

There are certainly plans to acquire further data in the ultra-deep area, following the acquisition of the MB&SS project, so I fully expect that upon review of the data acquired there will be more exploration companies heading into deep water. I think access to the UD acreage in The Gambia could be via a small license round, similar to the recent A1/A4 round.


What does the future hold for exploration in The Gambia?

The future is certainly very bright for The Gambia, with additional operators joining the region in the A1/A4 blocks, and further wells going down in The Gambia as well as the wider MSGBC Basin. There are already two major field developments (SNE and Tortue), so further similar resource potential is still extremely likely. The Gambia is sitting in a very strong position for prospectivity for hydrocarbons, and I cannot wait to see the next well results.


What do governments such as The Gambia achieve by speaking at forums like the Africa E&P Summit?

The oil exploration industry is an international arena in which many countries have demonstrated both their openness and organisation to attract the attention of future investors. Importantly, the fiscal terms have to be transparent and made available with full disclosure to enable integrity to be built in the country. Conferences such as the Africa E&P Summit enable this clear professional agenda to be broadcast, providing an important platform for countries to demonstrate the strength and depth of their hydrocarbon potential. Also, being able to make technical pitches regarding the subsurface environment to the right technical attendees is critical to the countries’ success.


At the Africa E&P Summit 2019, Ben Sayers, the Director of Business Development for Africa, Mediterranean and Middle East will speak on ‘What is Hot on Africa’s Exploration Horizon’ on the 21 May and Jerreh Barrow, Commissioner for Petroleum, Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, The Republic of The Gambia is the first speaker in the Africa Licensing Promotion and NOC Showcase Session on the 23rd May and will present ‘The Gambia: Petroleum Licensing Opportunities’. The Full Program can be requested from our website.

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