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Licensing Update Somalia: A Final Frontier Opens Up

Somalia's first offshore licensing round commenced in August 2020, opening up one of the final frontier regions of the world for oil and gas exploration.
This article appeared in Vol. 17, No. 4 - 2020

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Licensing Update Somalia: A Final Frontier Opens Up

Offshore Somalia is one of the few remaining frontier areas in the world. Only one exploration well, Meregh-1, has been drilled along the country’s entire 1,200 km-long margin. That was in 1982 and very little exploration has been undertaken in the country for at least 25 years, particularly the deeper waters, which have only been investigated by shallow-level Deep Sea Drilling Project wells.

  • Somalia license round data and blocks. © TGS.

In July 2020, the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of the Federal Republic of Somalia established the Somali Petroleum Authority (SPA), paving the way for the announcement in early August of the first ever offshore licensing round – a milestone for the country. The round comprises seven blocks, numbered 152, 153, 164, 165, 177, 178 and 204, covering a total of 30,168 km2. The Somali offshore can be divided into three basins: from north to south these are the Obbia Basin; the Coriole Basin, where six of the offered blocks are situated; and the Juba-Lamu Basin, containing the seventh block.

Using new long-offset 2D seismic data it acquired between 2014 and 2016, TGS has identified four source rock intervals that basin modeling indicates could be mature for hydrocarbon generation. These range from pre-rift Triassic Karoo and syn-rift Jurassic sources to post-rift Cretaceous and Early Tertiary source rocks. The data has also demonstrated a range of traps and reservoirs. In the north, Jurassic and Cretaceous limestone reefs, some up to 1,000 km2, are expected to provide excellent reservoirs, as are tilted fault blocks of pre-rift Karoo sandstones, while further south, large, well-defined toe-thrust systems with flat spots are visible, again offering attractive potential. Sealing lithologies are expected throughout the area. Play types identified by TGS include sandstones and shales in pre-rift tilted fault blocks, syn-rift sandstone wedges, carbonate build-ups, structural closures and gravity slides and thrust-bound anticlines. One of the most exciting aspects of the seismic interpretation is that, unlike much of East Africa where gas discoveries are the norm, TGS believe that there is a strong possibility of oil-prone prospects offshore the whole length of the Somalian margin.

A revised Production Sharing Contract has been designed in parallel with the 2020 round to encourage exploration, with fiscal terms reflecting technical, economic, commercial, operational and political considerations.

The round opened on August 4, 2020, with bid applications to be submitted before the deadline of March 12, 2021.

Further Reading on Oil and Gas Exploration in Somalia

The Chase for Oil in Offshore Somalia
Karyna Rodriguez, Neil Hodgson and David Eastwell, Spectrum Geo; Abdulkadir Abiikar Hussein, Mopmr, Federal Government of Somalia
New seismic data studies from Spectrum indicate high potential for hydrocarbon exploration in offshore Somalia, with excellent opportunities on offer in the region's 1st Licencing Round.
This article appeared in Vol. 16, No. 1 - 2019

Offshore Somalia: East Africa’s Oil Frontier
Hannah Kearns, Jake Berryman, Neil Hodgson and Karyna Rodriguez, Spectrum
Peace is bringing hope, seismic exploration and evidence of exciting hydrocarbon-bearing structures offshore Somalia.
This article appeared in Vol. 13, No. 2 - 2016

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