Gambia inks petroleum exploration deal with Camac Energy
Monday, May 28, 2012
The government of The Gambia and the United States-based
Camac Energy Limited Thursday afternoon signed at State House in Banjul the
Petroleum Exploration and Production Licenses for Offshore Block A2 and A5, an
event that marked the climax of intense negotiations between the two parties.
The minister of Petroleum, Teneng Mba Jaiteh appended her signatures on the deal on behalf of the government of The Gambia, whilst the chairman and chief executive officer of Camac Energy Limited, Dr. Kase Lawal singed for his company. The signing ceremony was presided over by the Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Jammeh.
Speaking at the occasion that had also in attendance Vice
President Aja Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy and members of the Cabinet, the Gambian
leader praised God for yet another signing ceremony of what he said could one
day turn the country into an economic superpower. He was however quick to
reiterate the need for all hands to be on deck in the march towards realising
While underscoring that this is a partnership that is
mutually rewarding, President Jammeh hastened to stress that this joint venture
has to be based on trust, transparency, honesty, and sincerity. He applauded
Camac Energy Limited for choosing The Gambia for their investment, as they
could have gone to other countries for a similar venture.
The Gambian leader also assured the investing energy company of his government’s commitment to ensure the protection of their investment the same way as that of Gambians. He used the opportunity to underscore the linkage between energy and development, stressing that the latter cannot take place without the former. “For us to ensure development, we should have reliable and affordable energy. In eradicating poverty, reliable and affordable energy is indispensable,” he underscored.
President Jammeh also urged officials of Camac Energy to explore other areas of interest for potential investment in the country. He further urged them to encourage other investors to explore the nation’s investment climate.
Speaking earlier shortly after appending her signatures on
the deal, Petroleum Minister, Teneng Mba Jaiteh expressed thanks and gratitude
to Camac Energy for its sustained interest in petroleum exploration in The
Gambia. Minister Jaiteh informed that the company applied for
explorations and development licenses for Blocks A2 and A5 in September 2011.
She indicated that after their technical team’s careful study of the available
data on the two Blocks at the Ministry of Petroleum’s Data Center, what ensued
was series of negotiations on the major fiscal terms and work programme
obligations for the Blocks, which she said culminated in the signing of an
agreement in principle in January 2012.
“Camac was then invited to carry out and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) as required by the law. The main objective of carrying out the EIA is to ensure that exploration activities are carried out with due regard to the protection of the socio-economic and environmental conditions of The Gambia,” she underscored.
The overriding principle throughout the negotiation,
according to the Petroleum minister was to ensure that the national interests
are protected and also the need to ensure that Camac’s investment is protected.
While indicating that many international oil companies have
visited the Ministry of Petroleum and reviewed a data with the aim of applying
for exploration licenses, Jaiteh reported that the A2 and A5 Blocks being
licensed Thursday were stiffly competed for with more than seven companies
showing interest in them during the last three years.
“Three companies including Camac Energy had their applications reviewed and evaluated out of which Camac came out stronger both in terms of their technical and financial capabilities and also in the major fiscal and work programme obligations,” she concluded, while commending the efforts of the Gambian leader.
The chairman and chief executive officer of Camac Energy,
Dr. Kase Lawal, praised the Gambian leader for his sense of vision, thus
acknowledging his support and encouragement to them when they first came to the
country for possible investment.
“About a year ago you [the president] were very hospitable in receiving us and encouraged us very strongly to invest in your great country. We took the challenge and you also encouraged us to look around and see other areas to invest and we did mention the area of power and you encouraged us,” he recalled.
The Camac Group, according to Dr. Lawal has been in business
for over 26 years in Houston Texas, USA. Having started as an agriculture
commodity company in , Lawal revealed that in 1991 they entered their first
exploration and production licenses in Nigeria together with Conaco Philips,
one of the largest oil companies in the world.
He said: “We have since with the grace of Allah become the only African origin and the only minority company in the United States in Energy that has been listed in the New York Stock Exchange. This is a pride for us that we may want to glow but Your Excellency I must confess to you it isn’t something that we are happy about because we like to see more of us originating from Africa or African-Americans or other minorities in America to be listed in the New York Stock Exchange, which is the premier and the largest stock exchange in the world.”
Lawal then seized the opportunity to extend an invitation to the Gambian leader and members of his government to the State of Texas and in particular the energy city of Houston to showcase what The Gambia has to offer to the investing world.
Commenting on this partnership, the Camac boss disclosed
that they intend to work very closely with the Petroleum Ministry and the
Gambia National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to develop skills and capacity to
use the local content vehicle – the indigenous Gambians to be a part of what he
called this God endowed natural resources of this great nation.
“We will train
the people of The Gambia and we have confidence, expertise and knowledge in
training the people of African countries where we do business. We have always
believed that doing well and doing good business is being a good steward, a
good neighbour and a good partner.
That is what we want to do in The Gambia and
you should expect nothing less from us. Education is at the core of developing
a nation – when boys and girls can read and write, they become independent;
they can fetch for themselves, a great nation is born and sustained.
how strongly you take education and we want to join you as a partner to let you
know that in 1992, we set up an endowment at the famous University of Houston,
Petroleum Engineering College and we have trained a lot of African students
since 1992 that have become leaders in oil companies across the globe.
I am now telling you that we will extend that to boys and girls in incubation from High School in The Gambia to come and study in the United States as part of this endowment that we have set up over 20 years ago,” he concluded.
Author: Hatab Fadera