First data from Luiperd, SA’s new big gas hope, are encouraging – govt

Business Insider SA
Deepsea Stavanger. Photo: YouTube
  • Government officials visited the massive drill rig at the Luiperd prospect off the coast of Mossel Bay.
  • They are encouraged by the initial data gathered from the site, which is close to Brulpadda.
  • Total found a potential one billion barrels of gas condensate – “wet gas” which contains some oil – in the Brulpadda area.
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Following a visit to a massive oil and gas drill rig at the Luiperd prospect, off the coast of Mossel Bay, government says initial data are encouraging.

On Friday, minister of mineral resources and energy Gwede Mantashe visited the rig that is looking for gas in the Luiperd prospect. The prospect is in the same Block 11B/12B where the Brulpadda discovery was made.

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

Last year, Total found a potential one billion barrels of gas condensate – “wet gas” which contains some oil – in the Brulpadda area. It is using the same rig, the Deepsea Stavenger, to now explore Luiperd.

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

The DeepSea Stavanger is a specialised rig that can cope with the strong currents. In 2019, it managed to complete a well 3,633 metres deep in the Brulpadda area. Five years before, Total tried to drill with a different rig, but had to give up after rough seas wreaked havoc on its equipment.

In a media statement, the ministry said Mantashe is “encouraged” by the data acquired from the Luiperd drilling.

A spokesperson of the ministry of mineral resources and energy told Business Insider South Africa that while more scientific analysis is needed, initial findings are positive.

"We are encouraged by the progress made. This is an important project in SA. We are excited about the operation, which brings much-needed investment in South Africa's upstream petroleum sector,” Mantashe said.

Just from the initial drilling at Luiperd, South Africa stands to benefit from R1.5 billion in spending on hotels, food, aviation and logistics services, as well as the training and contracting of local companies to support the drilling programme.

Since August, the Luiperd drilling campaign has employed 195 South African professionals – including engineers, aviation and marine specialists, petroleum geologists, and oceanographers.

According to the publication Offshore Energy, Total is expected to pay more than R3.3 billion on renting and operating the rig for the 180 to 300 days the drilling campaign is expected to take.

Brulpadda was South Africa's first successful deep-sea exploration, and potentially a game-changer for South Africa, which depends on oil imports.

Mantashe said the government is now working with the “necessary speed” to finalise the Upstream Petroleum Development Bill, to help unlock the untapped potential in the upstream oil and gas reserves.

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

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