President Barrow

(JollofNews) – Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has met with African Petroleum’s chief executive to discuss the status of its exploration licences, which oil ministry officials previously said had expired, the company and the presidency said on Wednesday.

Uncertainty over the status of two of the most promising licences in West Africa provoked a sharp drop in Oslo-listed African Petroleum’s share price earlier this month.

“The CEO of African Petroleum Jens Pace met President Barrow. The issues are being discussed and when a final decision is taken you will be informed,” presidential spokeswoman Amie Bojang said in an emailed response to Reuters.

African Petroleum spokesman Ben Romney said the meeting between Barrow and Pace took place on July 13, adding that talks were ongoing.

Barrow’s oil ministry officials contend that African Petroleum, originally founded by a Romanian billionaire named Frank Timis who remains a shareholder, did not meet its drilling commitments during an exploration period that ended in September 2016.

Barrow was sworn into office in January after former President Yahya Jammeh, who oversaw the signing of the deal with African Petroleum, fled Gambia amid a political crisis sparked by his refusal to recognise his defeat in an election.

The permanent secretary for petroleum at the oil ministry Mod K. Ceesay also confirmed the meeting between Barrow and Pace but reiterated his earlier position.

“The issue was raised but nothing has changed. They stated their position. We restated our position,” he said.

The A1 and A4 offshore blocks are adjacent to blocks in neighbouring Senegal where large discoveries have been made, and African Petroleum estimates they contain over 3 billion barrels of oil.

The company is currently in talks to sell a 70 percent stake in them to an unnamed third party, along with another licence in Senegal.

Courtesy of Reuters

 (Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Joe Bavier and Jane Merriman)