London — Total and its partners have made a “significant” gas condensate discovery near the major Brulpadda find off South Africa’s Western Cape raising the prospects of a new gas push in the country’s coal-dominated energy sector.
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The Luiperd well encountered 73 meters of net gas condensate pay in “well-developed good quality” reservoirs after drilling to a total depth of about 3,400 meters, Total said Oct. 28.
The Luiperd prospect, located in the Outeniqua Basin 175 km off the southern coast of South Africa, lies to the east of the Brulpadda find in the same exploration block 11B/12B.
“We are very pleased with this second discovery and its very encouraging results, which prove the world-class nature of this offshore gas play,” Total’s upstream head Arnaud Breuillac said in a statement. “This discovery and the successful seismic acquisitions…will help to progress development studies and engage with South African authorities regarding the possible conditions of the gas commercialization.”
The Luiperd-1X well began on Aug. 27 with a pre-drill estimate of over 500 million barrels of oil equivalent in prospective resources, according to block partners Africa Energy.
In a separate statement, however, Africa Energy said the net pay discovered in the Luiperd prospect is “significantly larger” than the main reservoir at last year’s Brulpadda discovery.
Touted as one of the year’s biggest finds globally, Total’s “game-changing” deepwater natural gas and condensate discovery at the Brulpadda prospect was announced in February 2019.
Estimated to hold about 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent of gas and condensate, Brulpadda is South Africa’s first major offshore hydrocarbon discovery which has sparked new drilling interest in the region.
Gas find implications
Total operates block 11B/12B with a 45% working interest, alongside Qatar Petroleum (25%), CNR international (20%) and Main Street (10%), a South African consortium which is 49% controlled by Africa Energy. The French major also operates the adjacent, even larger Outeniqua South block which has yet to be drilled and extends out to water depths of more than 4,000 meters.
The Luiperd discovery well will be tested to assess the reservoir characteristics and flow rates over the next few weeks following a well coring and logging program, the companies said.
“Due to the success at Luiperd, the joint venture has decided to proceed with development studies and engage with authorities on the commercialization of gas instead of drilling another exploration well in this program,” Africa Energy said.
South Africa’s new-found gas condensate resources in the area are expected to kickstart the country’s gas-to-power program and help replenish gas supply to the Mossel Bay gas-to-liquids plant. The South African government has previously voiced concerns that the PetroSA GTL plant at Mossel Bay could run out of natural gas within two years when the existing offshore reserves dry up.
If the production from the finds is used as a feedstock for its gas-to-power plants, that will reduce or eliminates the need for South Africa to import LNG or construct additional pipelines from Mozambique.
South Africa has been seeking foreign investors to back the country’s first LNG import terminal to underpin a planned major expansion of gas-fired power generation to lower its existing dependence on coal and diesel-fired plants. South Africa’s power generation is dominated by coal which accounts for more than 80% of total power output.
The new finds could be potentially be developed via a tie-back to a new-build platform near the existing E-M-, F-O and F-A gas fields in shallower waters off Mossel Bay.