VIENNA, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Austrian energy company OMV said Wednesday it was extending its reach into sub-Saharan Africa by taking on acreage off the coast of Gabon.
The Austrian company announced it signed a deal with Ophir Energy, an independent exploration company with shares listed on the London Stock Exchange. Under the terms of the deal, OMV takes an interest in more than 4,600 square miles of exploration acreage. It follows a similar acquisition in Madagascar.
"It is part of OMV's strategy to build up new exploration business in the region of sub-Saharan Africa," OMV Chief Executive Officer Gerhard Roiss said in a statement.
OMV said it plans to participate in the drilling of three wells off the coast of Gabon next year.
Ophir, in a separate statement, said the Austrian company would cover the costs associated with drilling and the seismic campaign meant to assess the reserve potential.
"[The deal] brings a well-financed, experienced and motivated partner into our blocks and is in line with our strategy of mitigating exploration risk ahead of drilling," Ophir Chief Executive Officer Nick Cooper said.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration states Gabon produced 244,000 barrels of oil per day last year. Its natural gas hasn't been exploited because of the lack of infrastructure.