South African Exploration Gathers Momentum

What can we expect from the region in 2021?

Despite a challenging year for the industry, it was uplifting to see successful drilling campaigns completed across Africa in 2020. One of the most encouraging was the gas condensate discovery made at the Luiperd Prospect in SA Block 11B/12B (Total*, Africa Energy Corp, Qatar Petroleum, CNRI). Not only did this build on the success of the Brulpadda gas discovery, but it signalled that – finally - resource opportunities were being unlocked for South Africa.

Luiperd’s JV partners have been granted approval from the South African government to enter the Third Renewal Period for the licence, which will end in September 2022. This provides the all-important opportunity to continue development plans and explore possibilities for onshore gas commercialisation.

The industry’s spotlight is now firmly on South Africa. With this in mind, AOW spoke to several Independents operating in the region, to uncover the prospect and exploration phases they are prioritising for 2021/22.
Channel Island-based New Age holds operatorship of several licenses offshore South Africa and hopes to unlock a fresh wave of discoveries.

In December 2020, New Age and Tower Resources announced that they would be advancing their plans for the Algoa-Gamtoos license - which lies adjacent to Block 11B/12B – into the next phase of exploration. David Peel, EVP of Global Operations commented:

“New Age currently operates the Algoa-Gamtoos permit at 50% equity with partner Tower Resources in the Eastern Cape Offshore area. The joint venture has just entered the Second Renewal Period with a work programme of 2D or 3D Seismic data acquisition. In the previous phase of exploration, New Age undertook many G&G and environmental studies, including the acquisition and most recently reprocessing of existing seismic on the block. We are in the process of reinterpreting the seismic data and encouraged by the presence of a working petroleum system and material leads in the shallow and deepwater plays analogous to other fields and discoveries in SA, including Brulpadda and Luiperd.

New Age and Tower Resources are currently seeking partners in the licence and hope to conclude farm-ins prior to commencement of the seismic campaign in the 2021/22 seismic acquisition window. We have always appreciated the support of the Petroleum Agency of South Africa and look forward to a future success that New Age can present at an upcoming Africa Oil Week!”

With a core focus on exploration across Southern Africa, we also caught up with Phil Birch, Exploration Director at Impact Oil & Gas to hear what exploration activities he’s prioritising for 2021 and beyond:

Following the gas condensate discoveries in Brulpadda and Luiperd, Impact completed the consolidation of its indirect interest in Block 11B/12B into Africa Energy, and now holds a ~37% shareholding in Africa Energy Corp.
We are also very active along the Transkei margin of South Africa. During 2020, following the departure of ExxonMobil and Equinor from the Transkei & Algoa licence, we have been joined by Shell who farmed-in for a 50% equity interest and operatorship.

Transkei’s attractiveness is that it bears many similarities to the prolific Guyana / Suriname margin of South America: both areas contain a great thickness of oil-prone source rocks; both contain a huge Cretaceous deep-sea fan; and both have a trapping mechanism provided by a major transform fault. Impact and Shell plan to acquire 3D seismic in Transkei during 2022.

Seismic evidence suggests that the Transkei play continues into the adjacent Area 2 licence, where Impact has recently taken a 90% equity and operatorship.”

Alongside their plans for South Africa, Impact’s core focus is centred on the upcoming Venus -1X well in Namibia. They intend to drill Block 2913B in mid-2021 along with Total and Qatar Petroleum. Birch commented:
“The Venus prospect is truly world-class, offering a billion-barrel resource potential, in Cretaceous deep marine fan sands, trapped within a counter-regional dip stratigraphic trap, and potentially extending into adjacent Block 2912.”

Are you an International or Independent Operator with interests in Africa? This November, Africa Oil Week will revive the Africa Independents Forum to showcase farm-in opportunities, drilling results and further plans for exploration activity. Get in touch to learn more.

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