Orca Exploration Group is planning to start the first phase of the Songo Songo development programme in Tanzania following World Bank approval for International Finance Corporation (IFC) financing.

IFC will invest up to $60m in the company’s operating subsidiary PanAfrican Energy Tanzania.

Following approval, Orca entered a drilling contract with Paragon Offshore to use its M826 Mobile Drilling Workover Rig to carry out the offshore phase of the development programme for the Songo Songo gas field.

"The contract has a minimum financial commitment of $21m excluding withholding tax."

Under the contract, the rig will operate in the unique shallow water operating environment around Songo Songo Island.

The contract is set to take place when the drilling rig arrives at the company’s first well location in Songo Songo. According to Orca, the drilling contract will start between 1 August and 21 September.

With a minimum duration of 90 days, the contract has a minimum financial commitment of $21m excluding withholding tax.

By the end of September, Orca hopes to start operations that include workovers to remove and replace production tubing strings on SS-5, SS-7 and SS-9 wells, as well as drilling new well SS-J.

Once the workovers are complete, the company has the option to drill a further two wells.

Orca said that the completion of the financing is subject to final agreement of specific terms and the negotiation and signing of definitive documentation.