ExxonMobil to explore oil and gas off South African coast

offshore johnsonExxonMobil has announced that it will search for oil and gas off the coast of South Africa, with plans to start a three-year exploration across 50,000 sq km in early 2015

According to the company, the exploration zone stretches from Port St Johns in the East Cape to Richards Bay in the north of Kwazulu Natal, at seawater depths of up to 3.6km. At its closest point, the exploration area is about 50km off the coastline, stretching almost 400km out to sea.

The Petroleum Agency of South Africa had decided in December 2012 to grant a technical co-operation permit to the company's subsidiary in South Africa, to conduct exploration.

However, unlike previous exploration attempts, ExxonMobil is considering using 3D and multi-beam sonar surveys, robotic submarine scanning, aircraft fly-overs, sediment core sampling and temperature measurements of the seabed.

ExxonMobil also has to submit an environmental management programme to the government and has set aside US$10mn to manage or rehabilitate any potentially negative impacts during exploration.

In a draft management report, ExxonMobil said, “Current interest in exploration in South Africa by experienced international exploration companies, in the face of a very competitive market for exploration acreage, indicates that the potential exists in the South African offshore for commercial oil and gas discoveries.”


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