The first oil drilling in Sao Tome and Principe will take place on March 2022, in block 6 of the exclusive economic zone operated by the consortium made up of Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell and Portugal’s Galp, an official source said
“This operation will last between 60 and 90 days,” the director of Sao Tome and Principe’s National Oil Agency (ANP-STP), Olegario Tiny, explained on Friday, assuring that “there has been an in-depth environmental impact study to take care of all the environmental risks that could arise.
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The ANP-STP and representatives of Shell and Galp began Thursday a round of presentations to the heads of sovereign bodies, which will be extended to local and regional authorities and civil society, in order to share information about this project awaited “with expectation” by São Tomans for more than 20 years.
Tiny explained that “from a financial point of view” the start of drilling “has no direct immediate impact” on the country’s economy, but, “from the point of view of geological knowledge of the area, this first hole could be very important.
” It creates an expectation, not only in relation to the population and the authorities, but in relation to all partners that are in the area” with oil exploration projects.
“Once the borehole is carried out and the elements that come out of all this work are collected, after 30 days […] we will have better geological knowledge of the subsoil of São Tomé and Príncipe – of our waters – but also at the regional level,” he added.
The consortium for block 6 is made up of Galp, which is the operator, and Shell, both with 45 percent stakes, and the Sao Tome state, represented by the ANP, with 10 percent.
Located about 100 kilometres off the coast, block 6 occupies an area of 5,024 square kilometres in São Toméan territorial waters at a depth of around 2,500 metres, in an area five times the size of the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe.
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“The nature of these types of projects, historically tells us that only one in ten projects is economically viable. So that means that a well may not prove the potential of the block itself or even of the country,” stressed Vanessa Gasparinho, Galp and Shell’s representative in Sao Tome and Principe.
The Galp and Shell consortium said in a statement that “to carry out the drilling a vessel was hired that is capable of operating in ultra-deep waters safely, with high technical capacity and state-of-the-art technology.”
On 3 December, during a review of the three years of governance, the prime minister, Jorge Bom Jesus said he hoped that “it will be a successful drilling,” noting that it would be a reason for hope for the country, which needs “additional funding” for its economy.