LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Oil major Royal Dutch Shell said it found a gas field under a layer of salt in deep water off the coast of Gabon, in a discovery which could help confirm explorer hopes that parts of west Africa's geology are similar to Brazil's.
Shell, which is partnered with China's CNOOC in the area, said on Wednesday that the frontier exploration well, Leopard-1, had found around 200 metres of net gas pay in a pre-salt reservoir.
Some geologists think offshore west Africa may contain deepwater reserves beneath a layer of salt on the ocean bed comparable to enormous finds made off the coast of Brazil, which have transformed that country's natural resource profile.
Shell, which has 75 percent of the licence, said it would now carry out further tests to try to establish how much gas is in the field.
"Shell has been exploring in Gabon for over 50 years. This latest deep water discovery is a testament to the innovation of our explorers in pursuing new plays," said Shell's upstream international director Andy Brown in a statement.
Gabon already produces hydrocarbons but last year launched a major deepwater licensing round, which it hopes will double its output to 500,000 barrels per day.
Reporting by Sarah Young, Editing by Paul Sandle