South Africa oil discovery could be a game changer

One of the promising hotspots for oil and gas exploration drilling this year—South Africa’s offshore—has just yielded a massive natural gas and condensate find that could open a new exploration province for oil majors and change the energy fortunes of South Africa.

France’s major Total said last week that it had made a significant discovery on the Brulpadda prospects off the southern coast of South Africa. “With this discovery, Total has opened a new world-class gas and oil play and is well positioned to test several follow-on prospects on the same block,” said Kevin McLachlan, Senior Vice President Exploration at Total in a press statement.

According to Total’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanne, the discovery could hold 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent of gas and condensate resources. The operator of the license, Total, and its partners Qatar Petroleum, CNR International, and South African consortium Main Street, now plan to acquire 3D seismic data this year, followed by up to four exploration wells on the license.

South Africa is currently working on new legislation that would separate the conditions for exploring and exploiting oil and gas resources from those for traditional minerals.

Although the difficult deepwater environment could pose a challenge, the difficulties may be similar to those present in the West of Shetland in the UK North Sea—a region that Total knows well and in which it has experience, Latham noted.

While South Africa is currently drafting new legislation on oil and gas resource development, the offshore regions around the whole African continent has recently seen growing interestfrom oil and gas majors willing to explore what they believe is the next exploration hotspot in the world.

BP and Shell are expanding their African presence, while ExxonMobil is focusing on western and southern Africa, amassing stakes in prospects in Ghana, Mauritania, Namibia, and South Africa, hoping to strike a discovery containing no less than a billion barrels of crude.

South Africa is one of the hotspots of promising exploration drilling alongside Guyana, Brazil, Mexico, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Cyprus, and the Barents Sea in Norway.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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