South Africa beckons as the continent’s new frontier ///

South Africa is opening up as a new frontier for energy firms seeking fresh acreage in a region that has yielded substantial hydrocarbon finds in recent years. Promising geology, low political risk and a relatively benign investment climate add to the attractions, but it remains unseen whether this largely unexplored country can yield major finds matching those made elsewhere in southern Africa. Growing interest in the country was underlined by ExxonMobil’s entry to the offshore sector in December, when the supermajor announced that it agreed to take a swath of acreage near Durban on the east coast. The move follows recent acquisitions of offshore exploration acreage by other international oil companies (IOCs), including Royal Dutch Shell, Anadarko, BHP Billiton and Cairn India. France’s Total also holds acreage off the southern tip of the country, Fig. 1.

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