On the southwest coast of Africa, Namibia, a stable democracy, has stood mysteriously quiet over the past 50 years when it comes to activity connected with oil exploration. Africa's west coast has seen oil exploration reward Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Mauritania, not to mention OPEC's Nigeria, and Angola, but for years Namibia has merely watched. That's because no oil has been found there.
All that could change very soon. Business Week and Bloomberg are reporting that BP last month became the largest shareholder in a parcel covering Namibia's Nimrod offshore oil prospects, which may yield the third largest discovery of oil this year, according to Morgan Stanley.
Robert "Bob" Dudley, chief executive officer of BP Plc, said all of the other major oil companies "have overlooked a number of the biggest basins in the world.”
BP reportedly purchased permits in neighboring Angola last year on the belief that West Africa's coastal shelf may have identical geological traits (favoring oil) of Brazil across the Atlantic.
One of BP's partners in exploring the Nimrod region, Paul Welch, CEO of Chariot Oil & Gas Ltd., said, "It's become a hot area. If we make a discovery it'll be like Ghana after Jubilee." Bloomberg said that the 2007 Jubilee discovery in Ghana, belonging to Tullow Oil, Plc, unlocked as many as 700 million barrels of reserves and opened a new oil province.
But to put this in perspective, even BP's partner, Chariot Oil, puts the odds of success at Nimrod at just 24 percent, and that shows a willingness by BP to drill for longshot prospects after many of the biggest finds have been secured by competitors.
Others say Namibia could open up a new basin for BP and that's why BP is betting big there, as well as in Angola, the Gulf of Mexico and South America. Stay tuned.