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Afex Global Expands West African Exploration

Source: Reuters 5/12/2010, Location: Africa

Independent oil explorer Afex Global has signed a deal with the government of Equatorial Guinea to explore an offshore block and will expand in Gabon and Cameroon, the company's chairman said.

The private firm, already actively exploring in Angola and Mali, expects to spend between $7-$10 million on Equatorial Guinea in the next three years.

Drilling could begin after three to five years if the quest is successful.

"This is a region with tremendous promise and it's underexplored," Afex Global Chairman Vernon Cassin said.

Some funds originally allocated for Angolan exploration will now be spent on Equatorial Guinea where costs are lower and competition less intense, he said.

Afex also plans to participate in upcoming licensing rounds expected later this year in Gabon.

Last month, Afex concluded a deal with Swiss-based Glencore to explore for oil in nearby Cameroon.

Crude oil production in this country fell 13 percent last year to around 73,000 bpd, partly due to piracy, but Afex thinks a revival is imminent.

"We view Cameroon as an area that has as much opportunity as Equatorial Guinea and possibly close to Nigeria," said Cassin, adding that the company is now exploring blocks that were left untouched by previous explorers.

It has already made discoveries in the country's coastal marshes but is also probing onshore, where it expects costs to be lower.

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