CALGARY, Alberta, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- A division of Exxon Mobil announced Wednesday it started drilling its first well targeting reserves off the coast of Liberia.
Exxon's Liberian affiliate is working on developing the Mesurado-1 exploration well off the coast of Liberia alongside Canadian Overseas Petroleum Ltd. The Canadian company said in a statement the well is located about 50 miles off the coast of Liberia and "is the first well operated by ExxonMobil offshore Liberia."
A survey of the oil and gas potential off the coast of West Africa from the U.S. Geological Survey put the mean estimate of potential reserves at 3.2 billion barrels of oil and 23.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Energy companies are examining frontier basins off the West African coast. Australian energy company Woodside Petroleum recently moved into oil basins in the region that are considered some of the more lucrative prospects in West Africa. According to Africa-focused Far Ltd., the SNE basin off the coast of Senegal could potentially hold more than 100 million barrels of oil. The company in 2014 started a drilling program in the nearby FAN-1 reservoir in deep waters off the coast of Senegal, which FAR at the time said could be a game changer for the region.
New drilling in Liberia came on the same day as one of the pioneering energy companies in the region leaves the country behind. African Petroleum said Wednesday its production-sharing contracts expired and won't be extended.
Last year, the company's CEO expressed delight with the results of a third-party assessment of reserves off the coast of Liberia, which raised the initial reserve potential by 33 percent.
African Petroleum said it's been working since June to amend the terms of its contract and bring in new industry partners for Liberia.
"The company has been seeking partners on these production-sharing contracts for some time; however, the company has received little industry interest as a result of the challenging market conditions for exploration activity and the lack of commercial discoveries in Liberia," it said in a statement.