Competition for Namibian gas exploration site

EnerGulf announced in November that an official letter addressed to PetroSA from Namibia’s ministry of mines and energy, a copy of which was delivered to the US company, said EnerGulf had been offered a 17 percent interest in the block and PetroSA a 70 percent stake. The South African company would be “solely responsible” for carrying two junior partners in the exploration phase, namely Namcor, the Namibian petroleum company with a 10 percent stake, and Namibian black economic empowerment groups holding 3 percent, EnerGulf claimed.The Kudu gas Project has received N$700million from the Namibian government’s 2006/2007 Budget. But the Namcor technical manager, Roger Swart, said it had been “premature” for EnerGulf to make an announcement as the Namibian government had received a number of applications still to be finalised. The discussions were ongoing and the licence had not yet been issued, he said on the sidelines of the Oil Africa 2006 conference in Cape Town last week. PetroSA failed to announce its apparent success even though the block, lying on Namibia’s international boundary with Angola, has been described as having the “highest potential” of all undrilled blocks in Namibia. The South African parastatal has refused to comment on the matter until an official announcement from Namibian authorities. Swart said the Namibian government had indicated that finality could be expected by the end of March. “But we are getting pretty close now and I don’t think it’s going to be made by then, so I don’t know when,” he said. He confirmed that PetroSA was in discussions with the Namibian government, but cautioned that there were “a number of companies out there”. Swart said block 1 711 held the most promise of Namibia’s exploration acreage, apart from the giant Kudu gas field in the south. “There are indications of oil and gas in the area . . . although we haven’t drilled it,” he said. The 8 931km2 block has two defined hydrocarbon exploration prospects, which are dubbed Kunene and Hartmann. The concession was initially awarded to Vanco Energy in June 2000, but the Houston-based company was forced to relinquish its holding after failing to meet well commitments. EnerGulf said the minimum exploration work expected from the parties named by the Namibian government was a detailed technical review, seismic reprocessing and site surveys amounting to $700 000 (R4.4 million). Other exploration rights in Namibia include an onshore licence in the Owambo basin awarded to Circle Oil; an offshore licence in the L’deritz basin awarded to US independent Hunt Oil; and two offshore licences awarded to BHP Billiton in August for primarily gas exploration in an area near the Kudu gas field. Also included are two offshore licences, for Greendale Universal Holdings, and another for Croatia’s national oil company.

April 2006
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