Southern Africa has just been identified as the hottest destination for hydrocarbon exploration in the world following a discovery of the equivalent of more than 500 million barrels of oil just off our coast.

French oil firm Total made public that it recently found a large well of “gas condensate” just 175km off the Southern Outeniqua Basin which runs parallel to the Southern Cape coast.

The company says the well may contain between 500 million to over one billion barrels of oil equivalent, and extends to a depth of more than 3.6km.

Gas condensate, a liquid form of natural gas, is a more valuable fossil fuel than crude oil and usually trades at a premium of between $5 to $10 (roughly R69 to R138) to the oil price.

CEO of Africa New Energies Stephen Larkin is of the opinion that if the national government plays its card right, the discovery could reduce the Eskom budget deficit by 30%.

“A ‘giant discovery’ is defined as more than 500 million barrels of oil equivalent… This is by a country mile the largest that has been found. For every barrel of oil geologists find, petroleum engineers find another seven,” Larkin told CapeTalk.

Many are calling the finding “enough to cover South Africa’s imported fuel requirements for the next four years“.

The deposits were found in the Brulpadda Prospect, part of the Paddavissie Fairway – which forms part of a 18 000 square kilometre-block that Total has been prospecting for several years.

There is hope that even more fuel may be found as four additional sites have been identified within the Paddavissie Fairway that all exhibit similar geological results from 2D seismic and electromagnetic surveys.

“Even though the well isn’t an oil discovery, if Brulpadda proves to be anywhere near as big as the estimates of up to one billion barrels of oil equivalent resources, it will still be a game-changer for South Africa,” Dr Andrew Latham, Vice President of global exploration at natural resources consultancy Wood Mackenzie, told BizNews.

The discovery could also assist in restarting South Africa’s gas-to-power programme, as well as replenishing the gas supplies to Mossel Bay’s gas-to-liquids plant.

There is currently no exact timeline for when this new resource will be available for use, but Total is currently working on harvesting the deposits.

Although this finding could change a lot for our country and ease pressure on the power supplies in the future, we cannot help but be concerned about how it might affect marine life and our oceans.


Picture: Pixabay

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