CAIRN Energy has started a 3D seismic survey offshore Senegal along trend from existing offshore prospects, Australiabased project partner FAR has announced.

Using 3D seismic vessel the Polarcus Adira, Cairn will acquire data over 260,300 hectares in the north and east of the Sangomar, Sangomar Deep and Rufisque blocks where there is currently no 3D seismic coverage.

Data acquisition is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2015 and final processed products are to be delivered in mid- 2016.

Cairn Energy chief executive Simon Thomson said he was delighted to have secured the approval of the Government of Senegal for this evaluation and exploration program.

“Cairn estimates that the two discoveries made in the fourth quarter of 2014 and the currently identified prospects and leads have a gross mean risked resource base of more than one billion barrels,” he said.

“Our aim is to maximise the value of our Senegal asset within a balanced, well-funded company. Cairn is well placed to take advantage of this exciting opportunity as we build on the success of last year’s discoveries.”

This evaluation program includes a firm three wells expected to start early in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Two appraisal wells will be drilled on the SNE discovery located in the Shelf Edge play and the Bellatrix prospect will be evaluated with an exploration well.

ConocoPhillips will allow dual activity drill ship the Ocean Rig Athena to conduct the drilling program during the fourth quarter.

In the event of a commercial success, ConocoPhillips will have the option to operate the future development of the resource, Cairn said.

FAR said the Bellatrix well would be the first to be drilled in the Buried Hills play which it said was highly prospective.

This would be the first exploration well to be drilled since the successful SNE 1 and FAN 1 discovery wells, with FAR saying their success encouraged it to believe that further exploration drilling offshore Senegal may yield more success.

FAR currently estimates 1.5 billion barrels of gross prospective resources lie within prospects mapped using existing 3D seismic data.

The group expects the new 3D seismic will add to this inventory of exploration prospects on the shelf where FAR sees extensions of both the Shelf Edge and Buried Hills plays.