BP has reportedly secured the exploration rights to drill for oil and gas in the disputed A1 block offshore Gambia.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the Office of the Gambian president Adama Barrow confirmed the signing of the petroleum exploration contract.

In 2017 Gambia revoked independent exploration company African Petroleum’s rights on the A1 block, citing failure on the company’s part to meet contractual obligations and expiry of licence period.Subsequently, African Petroleum sought legal assistance and launched arbitration proceedings at the US-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

“The company continues to reserve its rights in relation to the A1 licence and will continue with its efforts to protect its interest through the ongoing ICSID arbitration process.”

In a statement, African Petroleum said: “The company continues to reserve its rights in relation to the A1 licence and will continue with its efforts to protect its interest in the A1 licence through the ongoing ICSID arbitration process.”

A BP spokesperson told Reuters that it had won the licence in a bidding round and declined to comment on the arbitration proceedings.

BP plans to commence the offshore project with an environmental impact assessment, which will be followed by drilling, exploration and development of a first well. According to an earlier estimate by African Petroleum, the A1 and A4 blocks that it held hosts up to 3 billion barrels of oil.

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BP Africa New Ventures vice-president Jonathan Evans was quoted in the presidential office statement as saying: “It is probably in ten years’ time before the revenues would start flowing in.”