Last week, French oil and gas giant Total made the significant find on the Brulpadda prospects, located in the Outeniqua Basin – 175km off the southern coast of South Africa. The well – the first major deepwater discovery off South Africa – was drilled by the company using a new drilling ship. After the initial discovery of 57 metres of gas condensate, the well was deepened to a final depth of 3,633 metres. Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne claimed the discovery could hold one billion barrels of oil equivalent of gas and condensate resources.
Andrew Latham, vice president of global exploration at natural resources consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said: “Even though the well isn’t an oil discovery, if Brulpadda proves to be anywhere near as big as the estimates of up to one billion barrels of oil equivalent resources, it will still be a game-changer for South Africa.”
Total vice president of exploration Kevin McLachlan said: “We are very pleased to announce the Brulpadda discovery which was drilled in a challenging Deepwater environment.
“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.”
South Africa’s mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe also hailed the discovery, claiming it could attract more foreign investors.
He said: “It is exciting for our country that this discovery has been made. It is potentially a major boost for the economy, and we welcome it as we continue to seek investment to grow our economy.”
The African Energy Chamber (AEC) echoed that positivity, adding: “This is a great first step for the country which still relies on imports of oil and gas despite the great reserves believed to be in its soil and waters.
“The oil industry hopes this will be a catalyst and encouragement for all policy makers to work on an enabling business environment for exploration and drilling activities in South Africa.”
In 2018, crude oil production in South Africa averaged two thousand barrels per day – unchanged from the year earlier but well down on the record 58 thousand barrels per day in November 2003.
The country is experiencing a boom in the oil sector and is currently seeing significant interest from major oil and gas providers.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has been looking to significantly increase foreign investment into the country’s economy after years of stagnation under his predecessor Jacob Zuma.
BP and Shell have both announced plans to expand their African footprint, with the former starting production on the second phase of its West Nile Delta development off the coast of Egypt.
When it is finished later this year, combined production from all three phases of the project is expected to reach up to almost 1.4billion cubic feet per day – equal to around a fifth of Egypt’s current gas production.
BP chief executive Bob Dudley said: “This important project start-up benefitted from the excellent working relationship between BP and the Egyptian government.
“With the second stage of West Nile Delta now online, BP has now safely brought 21 new upstream major projects into production over the last three years, keeping us on track to deliver 900,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2021.”
ExxonMobil has also turned much of its focus to western and southern Africa, taking stakes in Ghana, Mauritania, Namibia and South Africa.