BANJUL, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Gambia has stripped three oil firms of their exploration and production licenses, according to a statement by the president's office that accused them of failing to meet their contractual obligations.
The statement, issued on Tuesday, said West Africa-focused African Petroleum and its partner Buried Hill Energy had lost offshore blocks A1 and A4. Nigeria's Oranto Petroleum also lost its Lower River onshore block, it said.
"These licences have been terminated with immediate effect. The Gambia government will not allow any institution to acquire licences only to keep them for speculation," the statement said.
"In our bid to harness our natural resources for the benefit of Gambians, we are not going to deal with speculators," it added.
The companies were not immediately available for comment.
Gambia's government believes that the country is sitting on large quantities of oil but it has not produced any yet despite decades of exploration by a number of companies.
(Reporting by Pap Saine; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Daniel Flynn)
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