Bowleven hits ‘potential’ oil off Africa

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SHARES in Bowleven closed up nearly 7 per cent last night after the Edinburgh-based explorer made a “potential” oil discovery off the coast of Cameroon.

The Aim-quoted driller said the initial test result from its “IM-5” well in the Etinde gas field “suggests the presence of liquids rich hydrocarbons, although further evaluation is required”. Further drilling work could take up to three weeks, the firm added.

Chief executive Kevin Hart, who took over at Bowleven in 2006 after eight years as finance director at fellow Edinburgh explorer Cairn Energy, said: “We are highly encouraged with the results so far on the IM-5 well, which to date has confirmed our pre-drill seismic interpretation.

“The potentially-significant hydrocarbon discovery in the Intra Isongo [layer] demonstrates the substantial upside that we believe exists on Etinde.”

Oil giants Elf, Mobil and Total drilled wells off Cameroon between the 1960s and 1980s, with Bowleven sinking its first exploration wells in 2004.

In November, Bowleven In November, Bowleven unveiled a $500 million (£313m) deal with FTSE 100 energy services firm Petrofac to develop the Etinde gas field. Petrofac will provide Bowleven with the funding for the initial stage of the development work on the Etinde permit, with the first gas expected to flow in 2016.

The stock closed up 4.25p at 67.75p, having hit 73.5p earlier in the session.