A prospect being drilled offshore South Africa is likely to contain more oil than an earlier discovery in the same region, according to Canadian firm Africa Energy, which is part of the operating consortium.
Drilling began at the Luiperd well in block 11B/12B on 28 August. It is near Brulpadda, where consortium leader Total made a gas condensate and light crude discovery last year that it said could contain 1bn bl of oil equivalent (boe).
Total operates the licence with a 45pc interest, while Africa Energy last month doubled its stake to 10pc. Qatar’s state-owned QP and Toronto-listed Canadian Natural Resources have 25pc and 20pc respectively.
Luiperd is the largest of five prospects identified in the southwest corner of the nearly 19,000 km² block, and is at least 50pc bigger than Brulpadda in area size, Africa Energy’s chief executive Garrett Soden told the Africa E&P Virtual Summit. The consortium estimates that it holds more than 500mn bl of prospective resource, similar to Brulpadda’s pre-drill estimate, but Soden expects it to contain a larger oil column.
“As we move east… the oil column will likely increase because the overburden is decreasing at deeper water levels, which indicates lower temperature and pressure at the source rock,” he said. The prospect also offers a more than 80pc chance of success, which is “unheard of in frontier exploration today,” Soden said.
The well has been drilled to a depth of 2,500m. Soden said that drilling and evaluation will be completed in the fourth quarter, when drilling will start on a third prospect, Blaasop.
Brulpadda is close to existing infrastructure so the gas can easily be monetised, Soden said. The prospect is 70km from a pipeline that connects to a 34,000 b/d gas-to-liquids (GTL) refinery in Mosselbay, which owner state-owned PetroSA expects to run out of feedstock by the end of 2020 because of depleting offshore gas fields. It is also located near the diesel-run Gourikwa 740MW power plant that aims to transition to natural gas as a feedstock.
Africa Energy also holds a 90pc participating interest in block 2B in the 3,6040 km² offshore Orange basin, where light sweet crude was discovered by state-owned Soekor in 1988. The asset holds more than 300mn bl of prospective resource and is 25km from the coast in fairly shallow water. It should be “relatively straightforward to drill,” Soden said. Africa Energy expects to spud an exploration well in the first quarter of 2021.