Namibia expects more drilling for oil


Windhoek-  Namibia expects up to five more oil exploration wells to be drilled starting end of 2015 going into 2016, as majors continue search for new deposits off the South West African coast, even after 19 wells drilled so far have not come up with commercial deposits of crude.

Tullow Oil Plc, which farmed into a block in the Walvis Basin, and Royal Dutch Shell, which has two exploration blocks in the Orange River Basin, are likely to sink wells in 2016.

Murphy Oil Corp “is finalising interpretation of data” and might drill a well towards the end of 2015 or early 2016, the same period that government expects Tullow to sink a well and “there is a probability that Shell might also be drilling at that time”, Immanuel Mulunga, Namibia’s Petroleum Commissioner, said in an interview recently.

“In 2016, we might have three to five wells being drilled. That is what we foresee as government. There could be some other players which might also drill during that same time,” Mulunga said.

Murphy, which has two exploration blocks in the Lüderitz basin “is proposing to drill up to two possible exploration wells in the area of primary interest in order to fully appraise the hydrocarbon potential of the geological structure or prospect”, it said in a notice seeking environmental clearance, published in local dailies a week ago.

Serica Energy, HRT and Chariot Oil & Gas HRT Participacoes em Petroleo SA could also be getting drill-ready from 2016 onwards, Mulunga said.

Namibia is seen as the last frontier in oil exploration, as it has attracted attention from the world’s biggest oil companies even after at least 19 wells failed to find commercial deposits of crude.

Explorers are farming into blocks held by oil exploration upstarts on a bet that Namibia’s coastal shelf may mirror that of Brazil across the Atlantic.

Oil discoveries in Angola, the continent’s second largest oil producer after Nigeria, and Gabon, countries which are along the West African coastal shelf could mean that Namibia has similar geological formations, according to geologists.

Namibia dished out 46 exploration licences and smaller operators which took advantage of an open licensing system “are not meeting their obligations” and “there is a chance that the ministry might revoke the licences”, Mulunga said.

“There are some which have not found farm-in partners, are finding it difficult to carry out their work programmes,” he said. Unutilised blocks would be used to court more oil exploration majors “for continued exploration momentum into the foreseeable future”.

“We have enough major players and there is still more to come and farm-in activities will continue,” Mulunga said.

Brazilian firm HRT struck a sub-commercial discovery at Wingat1 well, reigniting hope that Namibia holds deposits of crude. Traces of hydrocarbons have been discovered at almost all the wells drilled so far though explorers have not yet been able to pin-point source rocks, geologists say.

“We are not panicking even after all these dry wells. I know a discovery will come,” Mulunga said.

November 2014
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