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South Africa: Total finds new ‘significant’ gas deposit offshore

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Wednesday, 28 October 2020 12:38

The logo of French oil and gas company Total is seen in a petrol station in Paris, France February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

French energy group Total have hit a new deposit off the South African coast. It is the second discovery in recent times, after the major Brulpadda field. The finds could help fuel gas-fired power plants, and help a transition away from coal.

Known as the Luiperd-1X well, it lies in the Outeniqua Basin, to the east of the Brulpadda find, around 175km off South Africa’s southern shoreline.

Total operates the licence, owning a 45% stake. Qatar’s QP owns 25%, and two Canadian companies own the rest, Canadian Natural Resources with 20% and Africa Energy%.

“We are very pleased with this second discovery and its very encouraging results, which prove the world-class nature of this offshore gas play,” says Total’s upstream boss Arnaud Breuillac. “This discovery and the successful seismic acquisitions […] will help to progress development studies and engage with South African authorities regarding the possible conditions of the gas commercialization.”

The well was drilled by Africa Energy, who announced that the find was at least 50% bigger in area size than the Brulpadda find.

Brulpadda, the discovery of which sparked new interest in the region, is thought to contain the equivalent of 1bn barrels of oil.

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The timing for both finds is good for South Africa’s Mossel Bay gas-to-liquids refinery, which is close to the finds.

State-owned Petro SA expects to deplete the gas fields that currently feed the refinery by the end of the year.

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Can South Africa also leverage the find to develop its own energy industry?

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, who visited the drill rig on 23 October, certainly thinks so.

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“The discovery of Oil and Gas in SA will be the game changer”, says Mantashe. “We are working with the necessary speed to finalize the Upstream Petroleum Development Bill in order to unlock our country’s untapped potential in the upstream oil and gas reserves”.

The gas could also be used to power South African power stations, and break the current dependency on coal, which produces 80% of the power in the country.