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Gambia is entirely underlain by a central part of the Senegal Basin (the Casamance-Bissau sub-basin). The Senegal Basin is an Atlantic-type passive margin basin of Middle Jurassic to Recent age which began to form within a Permian to Triassic rift system.
The rift developed over an extensive Paleozoic basin during the breakup of North America, Africa and South America. It continued to subside as a passive margin after opening of the ocean.
The northern limit of the basin is the Precambrian Reguibate Shield in Morocco, the southern limit is the Bove Basin of Guinea and the eastern edge is Precambrian rocks of the Mauritanide Mountains, uplifted during the Late Paleozoic Hercynian Orogeny. None of these limits cross The Gambia although sediments shallow to less than 1000m in the east.
Onshore the basin is unproductive and probably lacks source rocks and traps. However, offshore there may be potential oil and gas accumulations in deep waters.
Drilling in Senegal to the north located petroleum systems associated with Cretaceous basin floor fans and shelf edge to slope clastic deposits. Similar plays have been tested along the West Africa margin. Salt deformation in the deep basin provides potential traps.
Only 4 wells have so far been drilled in The Gambia. In 1960 two wells were drilled onshore near the coast by BP but both were dry. One well was drilled offshore in shallow waters in 1978 which was reported to have gas shows. The latest well was drilled in deep waters in 2018.
The offshore Casamance-Bissau sub-basin is now the focus of industry activity after new analysis of West Africa's petroleum potential in 2007 following the Jubilee discovery offshore Ghana, the discovery of oil and gas in the first deep water well drilled off Sierra Leone, and, in 2014, oil discoveries in an area adjacent to Gambia in Senegalese waters.
Offshore, The Gambia may thus be prospective for hydrocarbons but while only one dry well has been drilled in deep waters no production of oil or gas is forecast by Globalshift.
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