Oil major BP has struck a deal for just under $1bn (£800m) to drill for gas in Mauritania and Senegal amid the worldwide slump in oil prices.

BP said it had signed a $916m joint agreement with US explorer Kosmos Energy to acquire a 62% interest in Kosmos' exploration blocks in Mauritania, and a 32.49% interest in the rival's blocks in Senegal.

BP said both sites held "world-class deepwater gas discoveries" covering 33,000 square kilometres, and holding over one billion barrels of equivalent liquid resources.

BP chief executive Bob Dudley said: "BP's entry into Mauritania and Senegal represents an exciting strategic opportunity to work with Kosmos Energy in an emerging world-class hydrocarbon basin."

Last week, BP also hammered out a deal valued at $2.2bn to gain access to oil fields in the United Arab Emirates.

The agreements come after two years of retrenchment in the industry that has seen companies axe thousands of workers and delay projects as oil prices crashed by some 70% over the period. Brent Crude is currently around $55 a barrel.

The fall was led by Middle Eastern producers who kept production high in a bid to drive out rival US shale producers.

However, last month the powerful oil cartel Opec agreed to production cut for the first time in eight years.

The recent deals by BP signal that the firm is turning to acquisitions to expand the business after several years of shrinking.

The oil major's spending and charges related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has cost BP more than $60bn, while the oil price slump has also hurt revenues.

BP and Dallas-based Kosmos agreed to begin drilling three exploration wells across the blocks they own in the beginning of next year.