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French Total Signs Offshore Drilling Contract With Senegal

French Total will lead new deep and ultra-deep offshore drilling initiatives in Senegal, according to new contracts signed by the company with the west African government.

The agreement with state-run Petrosen and the Energy Ministry gives Total a 90-percent stake as an operator of an exploration block.

"These agreements are part of the group's strategy to carry out exploration activities in new deepwater basins in Africa," Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in a statement cited by Reuters.

Other companies active in Senegal have struck large offshore reserves in the recent past.

Australian exploration company FAR announced it had discovered more than 1.5 billion barrels of crude off the coast of Senegal as a result of a 3D seismic study earlier this year. The figure, FAR said, was 50 percent higher than the estimate from an earlier review of the reserves in the SNE field.

Senegal is attracting much attention from the oil industry: a couple of weeks ago Cairn Energy announced it was preparing for the launch of its third drilling program in the country’s shelf, after making two substantial discoveries in the area three years ago. SNE was one of these, and Cairn’s estimates of the field’s recoverable reserves were between 274 and 900 million barrels.

Related: Saudis Further Discount Crude To Asia

British Petroleum is also eyeing Senegal’s offshore oil: last month the company said it had struck a deal with Kosmos Energy to acquire its 32.49-percent stake in two offshore blocks there. BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley referred to the area, including Mauritania’s shelf, as “an emerging world-class hydrocarbon basin.”

The SNE field is developed by a joint venture with Cairn as operator with 40 percent, FAR has 15 percent, ConocoPhillips has 35 percent, and Senegal’s state oil company Petrosen has 10 percent.

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By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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