Bowleven says Cameroon exploration to continue

AFRICA-focused driller Bowleven expects to become a major player in Cameroon’s oil industry after recent finds suggest there are large reserves in its acreages there.

The Edinburgh-based explorer recently upped its estimates of reserves at a well it is testing in the Etinde prospect off the coast of the West African nation. Yesterday, chief executive Kevin Hart told The Scotsman: “There is just a chance we’ve made one of the most significant finds in the history of Cameroon.”

His comments came as Aim-quoted Bowleven reported a fall in first-half losses to $6.3 million (£4.2m), from $8.5m a year ago.

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Earlier this month, the company increased its estimates of condensate – similar to oil – at its “IM-5” well in Etinde almost tenfold, to 184 million barrels. Likely gas reserves were hiked by 162 per cent to more than 1,200 billion cubic feet. Hart said recent discoveries in the area had “switched on the light”, giving clues as to what layers of the strata to concentrate on.

He told investors: “The recent IM-5 results, which significantly exceeded our pre-drill expectations, have placed us in great stead to deliver the staged development of Etinde.

“In addition, the recent Intra Isongo discovery reinforces our view that a significant volume of hydrocarbons remains still to be discovered on our Etinde and Bomono Permits. We remain convinced that Bowleven is ideally positioned to become a major contributor to Cameroon’s hydrocarbon production for years to come and we have the funding flexibility to deliver this potential.”

Over the next two years, the firm plans to explore both on land and offshore in Cameroon and Kenya, where it has rights to large areas. Hart added: “We can see a significant levels of prospectivity. We are actually spoilt for choice.”

The group will be able to pay for the exploration from $60m due to be paid out by contractor Petrofac as part of $500m that will see it pump gas from Etinde to power a nearby fertiliser plant. Gas is expected to start flowing commercially in 2016.

Hart said that although the gas was “nice to have”, it was the liquids expected to flow with it that would really add value to the project. The company is awaiting the results of tests that will give a better idea of how much it will be able to extract.

Bowleven’s results came as Aberdeen-based energy services firm Wood Group revealed the extent of its inroads into Africa by announcing 11 new contracts worth about $240m. The firm, which employs more than 3,000 people in 11 countries across Africa, picked up the contracts over the past 12 months.

It will provide maintenance and construction services to clients in Algeria, Chad and Equatorial Guinea; has secured a long-term service agreement for two gas turbines in Ghana; and is providing oil well engineering for an offshore project in Angola.