A giant rig is heading for the ‘Luiperd’ – in a bet worth billions on a big SA gas find

Business Insider SA
Deepsea Stavanger. Photo: YouTube
  • The DeepSea Stavanger oil and gas drill rig is on its way to the coast off Mossel Bay. 
  • It is heading towards the Luiperd prospect, which is close to the rich Brulpadda discovery.
  • According to Total's findings, Brulpadda could deliver 1 billion barrels of gas condensate.
  • Total is expected to pay billions for the drill's services.
  • For more articles, go to

A massive oil and gas drill rig is on its way to Mossel Bay as South Africa’s deepsea drilling odyssey continues.

The DeepSea Stavanger, which weighs almost 44,000 tons, arrived in Cape Town this week from Norway, as it heads to the Luiperd prospect off the coast of Mossel Bay.

The prospect is in the same Block 11B/12B where the Brulpadda discovery was made. The block spans 19,000 square kilometres, with water depths ranging from 200 to 1,800 metres.

Total owns 45% of the block's licensing rights, followed by Qatar Petroleum (25%), Canadian Natural Resources (20%), and Main Street (10%), which is owned by MTN chairperson Phuthuma Nhleko and the Canadian company Africa Energy.

Read: This MTN boss could make billions from the massive Brulpadda gas find – and’s owner could also benefit

Block 11B/12B, where the Luiperd prospect is situated. Source: Africa Energy Corp

Total tried to drill Brulpadda in 2014, but gave up after rough winter weather wreaked havoc on its equipment. At the start of 2019, it tried again in summer conditions, and using the DeepSea Stavanger – which is a more specialised rig which could cope with the strong currents. In the end, a well of 3,633 metres deep was drilled.

Total then found a potential one billion barrels of gas condensate – “wet gas” which contains some oil.

READ | Everything you need to know about South Africa's massive gas find

This was South Africa's first successful deepsea drilling, and a potentially a deal-changer for South Africa, which depends on oil imports.

The Deepsea Stavenger will again be used, this time to drill the Luiperd, which is relatively close to the Brulpadda and newly identified as having potential.

According to the publication Offshore Energy, Total is expected to pay between $145 million and $190 million (R3.3 billion) for the 180 to 300 days the drilling campaign is expected to take.

“The arrival of the drill rig, following the recent successful Brulpadda discovery, reaffirms confidence in South Africa as an investment destination of choice for the exploration of oil and gas. This is despite the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on economies around the world,” minister of mineral resources and energy Gwede Mantashe said in a statement this week.

The Brent crude oil price has fallen from almost $70 a barrel at the start of the year to below $45 currently.

"Government will be supporting this project by finalising the Upstream Petroleum Bill which aims to strike a balance between the need to attract investment into this key sector of the economy, and ensuring that oil and gas activities do not happen at the expense of the environment and water resources," Mantashe said.

Watch this video for a look inside the Deepsea Stavanger:

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