On April 30, 2019, The Government of The Gambia signed a petroleum exploration and production license with BP for the A1 block. In 2016, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy initiated a project to undertake an open, transparent and competitive licensing process. However, it immediately became apparent that the implementation of this project would require legal and technical support. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy therefore requested the support of the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF).
The ALSF’s support to The Gambia began in July 2017, when a letter of agreement was signed between the ALSF and the Gambian government. The support began with the review of the legal and fiscal framework for petroleum projects in The Gambia, and the revision of The Gambia’s existing model Petroleum Exploration and Production Licensing Agreement (PEPLA), with a view to negotiate petroleum licenses with international oil and gas companies. Following this request, through a competitive procurement process, the ALSF retained the law firm of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP), led by Alex Sarac, supported by Open Oil’s Johnny West, independent technical consultant, Richard Weightman, and Aziz Bensouda of Amie Bensouda & Co. and Yassin Senghore of Senghore Law Practitioners to assist the Government in this Project. Following further consultations, the support was expanded to include the provision of assistance in conducting a competitive bidding process for oil blocks-The Gambia’s first licensing round, which was launched in September 2018, followed by negotiations with the successful bidder. This process came to a successful conclusion with the signing of the license for the A1 block, the terms of which are said to be some of the best in the region.
BP hailed the process, stating “we congratulate the Ministry on a clear, open and well-run licensing round”. The Honorable Minister for Petroleum and Energy, H.E. Fafa Sanyang, stated that “Not only has the ALSF support guided us to achieving a daunting feat of undertaking a successful, open, transparent and competitive licensing round, but, the support, has also assisted us in instituting the capacity and toolkits needed to independently replicate such a process with minimal external support.” H.E. Fafa Sanyang further stated, “the result is that with BP, we have one of the most prestigious and capable IOCs investing in The Gambia and a license with terms and conditions that reflect international best practice and that has better commercial terms then most licenses in the region."
BCLP’s Alex Sarac stated, “we are grateful to the ALSF for allowing us to work with the ALSF team and the Government on the license agreements and for having the foresight to support the implementation of a licensing round in The Gambia, which achieved an outstanding result.”
The signing ceremony was held on 30 April 2019 at the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. At the ceremony, statements were made by Permanent Secretary Lamin Camara, Mr. Alex Sarac-lead attorney, representing BCLP. Remarks on behalf of the Director of the African Legal Support Facility, Mr. Stephen Karangizi, were made by Task Manager and Legal Counsel, Ms. Nchimunya D. Ndulo. Ms. Ndulo stated that “we commend the Government of The Gambia, led by the Honorable Fafa Sanyang, for the transparent and structured manner in which it conducted the process, and its vision of conducting this process in accordance with the industry’s best practices. We would also like to commend the Government for the inclusive manner in which it conducted the process through consultations with and the representation of all Government stakeholders ...Although the petroleum sector is in its nascent stages in The Gambia, the ALSF recognizes that the future for the sector is promising and holds hope for bringing good revenue streams that could contribute to the economic development of The Gambia and have a transformative impact on the future of The Gambia."
The keynote address was presented by the Honorable Fafa Sanyang, Minister of Petroleum and Energy. In attendance at the signing ceremony were also the Honorable Mambury Njie-Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, the British High Commissioner to The Gambia-Ms. Sharon Wardle, and other BP Executives and Gambian Government officials. The signing ceremony culminated with a courtesy visit with the President of The Gambia, H.E. Adama Barrow.
The African Legal Support Facility is an international organization hosted by the African Development Bank Group. The Facility is dedicated to funding legal advice and technical assistance to African countries in their negotiation of complex commercial transactions, creditor litigation and other related sovereign transactions. The ALSF also develops and proposes innovative tools for capacity building and knowledge management
About the African Development Bank Group
The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) is Africa’s first development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 44 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.
African Legal Support Facility Contact: Eve Ehoura, firstname.lastname@example.org