Shell gets clearance to drill offshore South Africa

Drill Ship . Shell FlickrShell will drill a second well if its first well turns out to be successful. (Image source: . Shell/Flickr)Shell South Africa Upstream B.V. (Shell) has received environmental clearance for exploration drilling in the Orange Basin Deep Water licence area

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs has issued an environmental authorisation for Shell, which gives it permission to drill up to two offshore exploration wells in the northern portion of the licence area, off South Africa’s west coast.

The licence area covers about 37,290 sq km. In 2012, the country’s Department of Mineral Resources granted Shell exploration right in the Orange Basin. In February 2013, the company completed a 3D seismic survey in an 8,000 sq km area within the licence area. Based on analysis of the seismic data, Shell has proposed to drill one or possibly two wells in the area. The drilling of the second well would depend on the success of the first.

A final environmental impact assessment report on the proposed drilling said that if the exploration is successful, it presents an opportunity to develop the South African oil and gas industry, resulting in long-term benefits consisting of access to new energy sources, improved security of supply and reduced dependence on imported hydrocarbons.

At present, in South Africa, Shell is strongly associated with retail and commercial fuels, lubricants and oils, as well as chemicals. In recent years, the company has started showing interest in South Africa’s oil and gas resources, which is why it applied for exploration rights in the Orange Basin. The company has also applied for a licence in the Karoo Basin to explore for commercial quantities of shale gas.

Offshore oil and gas exploration is also part of Operation Phakisa, a South African government initiative to unlock the economic potential of South Africa’s coastal waters.

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