World-class hydrocarbon discoveries confirm potential

Exciting offshore discoveries are not the only areas exciting interest, as David van der Spuy, Manager: Resource Evaluation Manager at PASA, explains. Biogenic, coal-bed methane and shale gas are all showing possibilities.


How significant is it that TotalEnergies EP South Africa has informed PASA of its intention to produce?

It is extremely significant and important to the industry. The discoveries made by TotalEnergies and its partners at the Brulpadda and Luiperd wells prove very large deposits and in terms of size, are the first “world-class” discoveries of hydrocarbons made in South Africa. The fact that the TotalEnergies partnership has applied for a Production Right confirms that industry is confident of the potential that South Africa holds. It is critical for the development to go ahead, not only because it will avert the closure of the gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Mossel Bay and the loss of 1 500 direct jobs, but also because of the economic effects this will have on the surrounding area. Moving forward depends on negotiations between the TotalEnergies partnership and gas offtake customers, in this case PetroSA and Eskom. The gas may also be used to fuel converted power plants at Gourikwa, Dedisa and Ankerlig and a new gas powerplant of 3 000MV could also be supported. This is only from the already proven reserves – further exploration in the area could increase this potential even further. It has been shown in Brazil through the GNA project that gas is critical in supporting the integration of renewables into the energy mix at large scale.

Are companies doing exploration obliged to share information?

Yes, all data and information produced through oil and gas exploration belongs to the state and is archived by the Petroleum Agency SA in its role as the national repository for such data. Besides this, explorers are required to report on their progress to our compliance and technical teams twice a year at least and share their interpretations and findings. We have built up good relationships with all our explorers and frequently hold joint technical workshops with many of them where data, interpretations and ideas regarding prospectivity are shared.

How does the size and potential of the Block 5/6/7 off the West Coast compare with the southern Cape coast?

The area under licence is bigger than the licence area of the south coast and in our opinion holds great potential. TotalEnergies and its partners have submitted a work programme for initial drilling of up to five exploration wells in the area.

What is the significance of what Shell found at the Graff-1 well?

The Graff, Jonker and further discoveries made by Shell north of South Africa’s border, together with the Venus discovery made by TotalEnergies, are extremely significant for South Africa. The vast majority of the Orange Basin lies in South African waters and our own internal interpretation of data as well as that of our explorers has highlighted similar prospectivity in the South African sector to that discovered in Namibia.

Renergen has been attracting a lot of interest. Are there other parts of South Africa that might have the same potential as the Virginia Project?

Renergen, through Tetra4, is developing a biogenic gas discovery. There are other types of unconventional gas onshore, such as coal-bed methane and shale gas. There is very good potential for onshore gas: for example, Kinetiko, a subsidiary of AfroEnergy, is making excellent progress in their determination of gas reserves in the area between Amersfoort, Volksrust and westwards towards Frankfort. They have already proven contingent reserves of 6TCF and have stated a further potential of almost the same amount across the acreage they hold. There are many active exploration rights onshore; some other examples include Thungela Resources, who have a reserve estimate of 1TCF in the Lephalale Basin and Panoro Energy, who are in the early stages of exploring for biogenic gas. Then there is the potential for shale gas in the south-central Karoo. The interpretation work by Petroleum Agency SA indicates a potential of 209TCF recoverable gas. Our basin-analysis studies of the area also show indications of potential for conventional deposits of both dry gas and wet gas in the area.