Total and its partner Canadian Natural Resources International have commenced the drilling operation for South Africa’s first deep-water well in the Western Cape
The block is located in the Outeniqua Basin, around 175km off South Africa’s southern coast, and covers an area of 19,000 sq km with water depths ranging from 200 to 1,800 metres.
According to Bloomberg, the drilling programme is expected to take between three and four months at an estimated cost of more than US$190.6mn.
The French explorer said that the drilling operation gives fresh impetus to South Africa’s nascent upstream oil and gas industry, at a time when the eyes of investors in the sector are shifting further down Africa’s coastline.
While substantial gas discoveries have been made offshore of Tanzania and Mozambique in recent years, South African petrochemicals firm Sasol had recently announced plans to explore for oil and gas along the country’s east coast, and Australian company Sunbird Energy is already pushing ahead with the development of a major gas project off South Africa’s west coast.
Marc Blaizot, senior vice-president for exploration at Total, said in September last year, “South Africa’s deep offshore, in particular the Outeniqua Basin, is one of the few remaining under-explored offshore regions in Africa.”
goako Ramatlhodi, mineral resources minister of South Africa, said that the country’s emerging upstream oil and gas industry had great potential to contribute to economic growth and job creation.
“Drilling in deep water is novel to South Africa and will therefore also bring with it avenues for skills transfer in the deep-water exploration space,” Ramatlhodi added.