Oil and gas company BP has decided to return to the drilling programme of an existing Kenya Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) contract with National Oil Corporation (NOC).

The exploration programme was brought to a halt on 21 February 2011 by a Force Majeure: a protective measure put in place if part of a contract cannot be performed due to unavoidable external causes, such as natural disasters.

NOC chairman Dr Nuri Berruien and BP North Africa president Felipe Posada signed the agreement to lift the Force Majeure on 29 May, during a visit to Tripoli with BP executive vice president for exploration Dr Michael Daly.

“The lifting of Force Majeure is a significant milestone in BP’s plans to return to the exploration of onshore and offshore blocks in our existing EPSA contract,” said Daly. “We look forward to working with the NOC and our partners in the Libyan Investment Authority to safely implement our drilling programme.”

Berruien added: “We thank BP for its commitment to Libya by lifting the Force Majeure. The NOC will work with BP to deliver the objectives of the EPSA and extends all help and support to BP in order to implement the agreed work programme as per existing EPSA terms.”

Since the EPSA contract was made in December 2007, BP has acquired more than 31,000kmof 3D seismic data over blocks offshore in the Sirt basin and onshore in the Ghadames basin.

BP’s contract with NOC includes a commitment to five wells offshore and 12 wells onshore.