Total makes second ‘significant’ gas discovery off SA coast

The Deepsea Stavanger exploration rig.
Image: Odfjell Drilling

French oil and gas giant Total announced a second major natural gas discovery off the coast of southwest Africa on Wednesday.

Hailed as the only discovery in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020, the find confirmed “tremendous gas potential in SA”, the company said.” While anticipated, Total’s second significant gas condensate discovery … is nonetheless reason to rejoice after a year of deep uncertainty and struggles for the African energy sector,” it added.

Along with its partners Qatar Petroleum, CNR International and Africa Energy Corp, Total began drilling in an exploration block knowns as the Luiperd prospect, 175km off SA’s southern coast just two months behind schedule.

The well, known as Luiperd-1X, was drilled to a depth of 3,400m and discovered 73m of net gas condensate pay.

The strike follows a significant find in the adjacent Brulpadda prospect in 2019 which proved the potential of SA’s untapped offshore natural gas reserves.

The block where the discovery was made covers an area of 19,000 square kilometres, with water depths ranging from 200m-1,800m, Total said.

The section is operated by Total with a 45% working interest, along with Qatar Petroleum (25%), CNR international (20%) and South African consortium Main Street which has a 10% stake.

The drilling rig, Odfjell Deepsea Stavanger, departed Bergen in Norway for the southern tip of Africa, in early July, Bloomberg News reported.

The move came at a time when drilling work had fallen sharply in Africa as global oil prices sagged as in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the investors are thrilled by the discovery, drilling conditions are reportedly challenging, Energy Voice reports. “Rough weather forced Total to abandon its first effort at Brulpadda in 2014, with the rig not quite up to the job,” the publication said.

“The Deepsea Stavanger has proved to be a more capable rig.”

BY Paul Ash

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