(Dakar) Senegal entered the circle of hydrocarbon producing countries with the announcement on Tuesday by the Australian company Woodside Energy of the start of oil extraction from the Sangomar field off the African coast.

“Woodside has carried out the first extraction of oil from the Sangomar field, successfully completing the delivery of the country’s first offshore oil project,” the company that operates the field with Société des Petroles du Sénégal (Petrosen) said in a statement. .

The deepwater field, about 100 km south of Dakar, contains oil and gas. The project, whose development was launched in 2020, required about $5 billion in investments, according to the company. It aims to produce 100,000 barrels per day.

This first extraction of Sangomar precedes the entry into production of another project, that of Grandtorte/Ahmeyim (GTA), on the border with Mauritania, developed by the British BP with the American Kosmos Energy, the Mauritanian Society of hydrocarbons (SMH) and Petrosen. It is expected to produce about 2.5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year and production could begin there in the third quarter.

Oil and gas production in Senegal will be intended for export and domestic consumption.

It will be far from reaching the levels of global and African giants like Nigeria. But revenues in the billions of dollars are expected, as well as an accelerated transformation of the economy.

“The start of extraction from the Sangomar field marks the beginning of a new era, not only for the industry and economy of our country, but above all for our people,” says the general director of Petrosen Exploration and Production , Thierno Ly, in the Woodside press release.

The boss of the Australian company, Meg O’Neill, speaks of “a historic day for Senegal and for Woodside”.

The new Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye, elected in March, took advantage of a meeting on Tuesday with schoolchildren from the suburbs of Dakar to talk to them about the start of oil extraction.

“The State of Senegal has set up an intergenerational fund. For your generation and those to come, we have reserved shares (in the resources derived from the exploitation of oil). We reassure you. If you learn that Senegal has oil and gas, (know that) its shares will be well managed,” President Faye told schoolchildren, in a rare communication from Senegalese authorities after the announcement of the first barrel.

The discovery of vast oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic since 2014 has raised considerable hopes in this poor developing country. Expected revenues from gas and oil are estimated by Petrosen at an annual average of more than one billion euros over a period of thirty years.

This discovery also aroused fears that the country would experience like others the “curse” of oil, with a windfall fueling corruption without benefiting the population.

Senegal strongly demands the exploitation of its gas and oil resources in the face of efforts by part of the international community to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

The future production of gas and oil, postponed several times, was a major theme of the recent presidential campaign which saw the victory of the anti-system candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye, claiming sovereignty and left-wing pan-Africanism.

Mr. Faye’s camp campaigned on the promise to review or renegotiate oil and gas, mining or fishing agreements signed by the former administration and deemed unfavorable to Senegal.

The new president inaugurated in April announced among his first measures an audit of the mining, gas and oil sector.

Prime Minister and former mentor of Mr. Faye, Ousmane Sonko, reaffirmed on Sunday the desire to review the contracts.

“It was we who promised you that we were going to renegotiate the contracts and we are going to do it, and we have already started,” he said in Dakar in front of the young people of his party.

The initial phase of Sangomar consists of a floating production and storage unit linked to subsea infrastructure designed in anticipation of later phases of development. It includes 23 wells, including 11 production wells, 10 water injection wells and 2 gas injection wells, says Woodside. Twenty-one wells have been completed, she said.

This initial phase will produce from the less complex reserves and test other reservoirs, she says.