About Petroleum

Ministry's Mandate

To harness and promote the country's hydrocarbon potentials for development of the country through negotiating the award of exploration and production licenses, negotiating bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements, developing policies and strategies to enhance the development of the industry.


The Downstream Sector -National Petroleum Demand

Downstream petroleum refers essentially to the business of petroleum products - from the refining of crude oil to the marketing of the refined products. Therefore downstream petroleum includes refining of crude oil, transportation (by road, rail, pipelines, and ocean going vessels), storage, and marketing (e.g. fuel service stations). In the country, the downstream petroleum activities are so far limited to refining sludge, importation, storage, transportation and marketing of petroleum products such as petrol, diesel, kerosene, Jet fuel, LPG (liquid petroleum gas) and tar.

Unlike the upstream, downstream petroleum activities have not been adequately regulated. The laws available for the downstream is the Petroleum Act, Chapter 65:01 of 1921 last amended in 1963 and 1976, which deals mainly with the transportation, storage and possession of petroleum products (mainly liquid products). The law is far too old and inadequate for the modern dynamic petroleum industry.

Petroleum Products Consumption and Supply in the Gambia

The Gambia imports all of its petroleum requirements, mainly used for electricity power generation and in the transport sector; they are mainly refined products like gasoline, diesel, heavy fuel oil (HFO), kerosene/Jet A-1 and liquefied petroleum gas due to the absence of a local refinery.  Importation is now liberalized, and contract arrangements have been in force with various license holders. A modern fuel depot at Mandinary that has a storage capacity of 51,000 metric tons is the only storage depot.

Supply and Demand Situation and Access Rate by Beneficiaries

The consumption of liquid products grew from 107.6 million metric tons in 2005 to 177.80million metric tons in 2014 (Table 3.1). There was a fluctuating trend in the demand for HFO but demand for diesel oil gradually increased from 39.4 million metric tons in 2005 to 72.46 million metric tons in 2014 whilst the supply for gasoline or petrol remained constant from 2005 up to 2010 when it steadily increased from 20.3 million metric tons to 22.3 million metric tons in 2011 and 24.6 million metric tons in 2014. The supply of kerosene/jet fuel has been fluctuating between 18 million tons in 2010, 22 million tons in 2011 and 2013 but falling to 14 million metric tons in 2014.

The source of supply of petroleum products to the Gambia is from the international market through contract arrangement entered into with local operators. Subsidiary international oil marketing companies such as GALP, Elton and Total and other local operators lift the products from the depot at Mandinary to meet their individual market demands. The system is functioning efficiently as these operators all have their own logistical support arrangements. The new support facilities for handling petroleum supplies and distribution are:

  1. A submarine pipeline for discharging tankers at Mandinary

  2. A 51 thousand metric ton storage depot located at Mandinary

  3. About 55 retailing stations countrywide


The Upstream Sector

The Gambian petroleum sector is segmented into upstream and downstream involving activities from the exploration and production stage to transportation and storage and marketing. Upstream petroleum matters essentially refer to petroleum exploration, development and production activities. As it stands now the country is at an exploration stage whereby international oil companies are invited to sign exploration and production licenses with the Government.

The Gambia lies entirely within the geological boundaries of the largest West African Passive Continental Margin basin called the MSGBC Basin i.e. the Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry Basin, which is proven to be prolific in oil and gas accumulations. Exploration activities (which include seismic, gravity, magnetic and limited exploration well drilling programs) carried in the past, in both offshore and onshore, identified significant oil and gas prospects particularly in the offshore area. These surveys were done through multi-client Agreements signed between MOP and international oil companies, and together with the exploration wells mentioned earlier have provided the preliminary data base for further geological and geophysical studies in future exploration programs.

Numerous exploratory surveys have been conducted since the late 1950s through the 1980s and 1990s in both offshore and onshore, but it was only from the 1990s through 2003 and 2010 when high quality 3D and 2D seismic data was acquired. The 3D seismic data was generated within more than 2,500 km2 area, and the 2D seismic data within an area of 4,700 km2. In the onshore area Petro-Canada carried out 330 km of 2D seismic programming 1991, and this is the only modern seismic data available on the onshore.

From the acquired data and information the Gambian territory was divided into “Blocks”. The offshore area has been divided into 6 Blocks and the onshore area into two Blocks. Of the off shore Blocks 4 are already licensed but the 2 onshore blocks are still open acreages. In some of the Blocks (Blocks A1 and A4 for example,) the studies identified many prospects, and now all efforts are being made to drill the exploration well by 2016.

Given the above therefore, the main challenges and threats faced by the upstream sector can be summarized below as emanating from:

  • the global petroleum price meltdown which is affecting the petroleum industry, especially the upstream; the low price is creating a cut-down in exploration activities globally, and consequently will potentially affect Gambia as well

  • lack of modern geophysical data to enhance determination of oil and gas prospectivity and licensing of the onshore area

  • the expensive and sensitive nature of onshore petroleum exploration and production activities due to health, safety, environmental and social issues associated with the activities

  • human and institutional capacity constraints in the MOP

Our Mission

To ensure maximum benefit from the country's hydrocarbon resources through an acceptable efficient, safe and environmentally friendly manner that will enhance and contribute to the growth of our national wealth.

Our Plan

  • Encourage oil expolaration activities through the creation of a policy environment that is friendly to investors 

  • Encourage the private sector to participate in the development of the sector, including building relevant infrastructure for petroleum and Liquid Petroleum (LPG) as appropriate

  • Regulate and monitor the pricing structure of petroleum products

Our Vision

To be performance-driven Ministry that would ensure that the Gambia's Petroleum sector contributes to the sustainable development of the country.