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PETROSA LTD, SOUTH Africa's state-owned oil and gas company, is considering investing about US$1bn in developing a natural gas field off the country's south coast.

The offshore gas field, called “FO”, has in the region of 1tcf of gas, with an upside of two to three tfc, and would be used to supply PetroSA's gas-to-liquid plant at Mossel Bay, about 390 km east of Cape Town, said Sandro Borean, head of PetroSA's southern African upstream operations. The field is situated about 40 km from PetroSA's other offshore gas deposits.

“The current fields are depleting and there's a scramble on to get more gas to the plant,” Borean told the recently-held Africa Energy Conference. Development of the new field “has been approved by the board recently. We anticipate first gas in the first quarter of 2013. We're currently going out to tender for drilling rigs and other long-lead items.”

The Mossel Bay fuel plant can produce the equivalent of about 45,000 bpd, making it the smallest of South Africa's six refineries, according to the South African Petroleum Industry Association. The company has been studying a US$9bn 400,000 bpd oil refinery in the Eastern Cape province for about three years.