Total scores “significant” gas condensate find offshore South Africa

By Paul Burkhardt and Dana Khraiche on 10/28/2020

Total and its partners made a second gas-condensate find off the southern coast of South Africa, a country that imports most of its oil.

The “significant” discovery of gas condensate -- a light liquid hydrocarbon -- comes after Total said last year it had opened up a new “world-class” oil and gas province off South Africa. The drilling program is a rare example of exploration in a frontier area, with activity dropping off dramatically elsewhere amid the oil-price collapse.

The Luiperd-1X well on Block 11B/12B was drilled to a total depth of about 3,400 meters and encountered 73 meters of gas condensate, Total said in a statement. The French company will now conduct a detailed assessment of the reservoir in conjunction with Qatar Petroleum and its other partners.

“The initial well results are better than anticipated, and they offer a great opportunity to pursue further exploration and appraisal activities in this area,” Saad Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s minister of energy and chief executive officer of Qatar Petroleum, said in a separate statement.

The upcoming Africa Energy Outlook 2021 of the African Energy Chamber identifies several such high-impact wells for 2021 and 2022 that could yield similar discoveries in South Africa and Namibia. The outlook notably identifies the southwestern coast of Africa as being home to perhaps the most anticipated wildcats globally. The prospects, if successful, could open new basins for development and trigger big new investments towards the latter half of the 2020s.

Under its 2021 projections to be released in November, the Chamber notably sees gas production and consumption increasing on the continent. More specifically, new frontiers such as South Africa are expected to increasingly consume natural gas for industrial purposes and power generation.  Such developments could be a pillar for economic recovery post Covid-19, but would require the promotion of an enabling environment providing investors with sound and attractive policy and contractual frameworks.

“The African Energy Chamber has always seen Africa as a true frontier for exploration and promoted a much bigger use of gas across our economies to create jobs and support industrialization. The gradual opening of a new domestic gas hub in South Africa is a very welcoming development that needs to be supported with efficient and transparent policies, and quick approvals of all necessary permits and licenses for gas to be commercialized and create value for South Africans,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

In February 2019, Total and its partners made an estimated 1 billion-barrel find on Block 11B/12B.

Total operates the block with a 45% working interest. Qatar Petroleum has 25%, CNR International 20% and Main Street -- a South African consortium -- 10%.

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