Exxon ditches its South African exploration projects

Business Insider SA
ROTTERDAM, - APRIL 21: A general view of Exxonmob
A general view of an Exxon Mobil refinery in the port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
  • Exxon Mobil has given up on its exploration activities in South Africa.
  • This includes its rights to explore oil and gas in a massive area between Durban and Richards Bay.
  • Exxon also owns rights in blocks close to the Brulpadda find.
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Exxon Mobil, the world's largest listed oil and gas company, has given up its rights to continue exploring oil and gas off South Africa.

The company had been exploring off the coast of KwaZulu-Natal, and also owns rights in blocks close to the Brulpadda find, off the coast of Mossel Bay.

A spokesperson from the US giant confirmed to Business Insider SA that Exxon closed its local venture office in late-July. While Exxon didn’t want to confirm the details, Energy Voice reported that it is giving up three exploration licences.

“This decision is consistent with our strategy to evaluate our upstream portfolio and opportunities for growth, restructuring or divestment, or exit depending on fit with strategic business objectives,” an Exxon Mobil spokesperson told Business Insider.

In July, Exxon Mobil suffered a $1.1 billion quarterly loss due to much weaker energy demand amid the pandemic. It is planning large spending cuts, including layoffs across the world, Business Insider first reported

While it decided to give up on exploration projects in South Africa, the decision does not impact the company’s downstream and chemical business in South Africa, the spokesperson said.

“Future investment opportunities in South Africa will be evaluated as they arise.”

Before leaving the country in 1986 amid apartheid, the company was active in South Africa for many years – it built the country’s first lubricants blending plant in 1955.

It returned in the 2000s, and Engen was first awarded the rights to market Exxon Mobil’s lubricants in the region.

In 2012, Exxon Mobil announced that it would become an operator of the Tugela South Exploration Right, which spans more than 9,000 square kilometres from Durban to Richards Bay.

At the time, this was seen as a risk as no big discoveries had been made in that area.

It also bought stakes in the Outeniqua Basin off the south coast of South Africa, close to the Brulpadda find which Total now believes can deliver 1 billion barrels of gas condensate.

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

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