Sierra Leone Awards Offshore Exploration Blocks to Cluff and Innoson
Sierra Leone has provisionally awarded 24 blocks as part of the country’s Fourth Offshore Petroleum Licensing Round that was originally launched in January 2018 and concluded in February this year. A total of 15 offshore blocks were awarded to UK-based Cluff Energy Africa Ltd., with 9 blocks going to Nigerian firm Innoson Oil & Gas Ltd. The awarded blocks are focused around Sierra Leone’s continental shelf, with Cluff Energy Africa taking the northern blocks close to Guinea, while Innoson’s acreage is situated towards the south, close to the maritime boundary with Liberia.
A press release from the Government of Sierra Leone stated that it had previously received six applications for offshore concessions in the round, and that the government followed a “rigorous and thorough evaluation processes to assess the capability and credibility of these six oil and gas corporations to undertake offshore exploration activities.”
Sierra Leone’s previous licensing round was held in 2012, during which offshore blocks were awarded to 11 companies, all of which either chose not to renew their initial licenses or had their contracts terminated for failing to meet minimum exploration activity requirements. As a result, there have been no significant discoveries of either oil or natural gas in the country till date.
Cluff Energy Africa is majority-owned by veteran North Sea oilman Algy Cluff, who launched the company following his departure from Cluff Natural Resources Plc in mid-2019. British businessman and philanthropist Michael Spencer holds the remaining 40% stake through IPGL (Holdings) Ltd.
Abuja-based Innoson Oil & Gas is part of the diversified Innoson Group of Companies that is owned and controlled by Nigerian businessman Dr. Innocent Chukwuma. The group has business interests in automobile manufacturing and assembling, plastic productions, information technology, wood processing and hospitality, and established an oil & gas division last year.