"Last night I received a call from Minister Gwede Mantashe, when he told me that the oil giant Total would be making a big announcement today about a new world-class oil and gas discovery off the coast of South Africa", said Ramaphosa to applause. That's a boon for a country that has always been short of oil and is running out of its scant domestic supply of gas.
The Block 11B/12B covers an area of 19,000 square kilometers, with water depths ranging from 200 to 1,800 meters, and is operated by Total with a 45% working interest, alongside Qatar Petroleum (25%), CNR global (20%) and Main Street, a South African consortium (10%).
South Africa's first deep-water hydrocarbon discovery, in a field with a 20-per-cent Canadian ownership stake, has the potential to transform the country's faltering economy, President Cyril Ramaphosa says.
South Africa, which imports most of its oil, has been hoping for offshore oil discoveries for years, but those hopes were dashed until now. "We welcome it as we continue to seek investment". "This country is blessed with some of the best renewable energy resources in the world; it's time to back renewable energy and stop the reckless and risky dash for fossil fuels". A failed exploration campaign in shallow waters has meant a gas-to-liquids refinery at Mossel Bay runs well below capacity.
Following this discovery and confirmation of its potential, the company has indicated it will follow up with 3D seismic tests to be followed up by four exploration wells. "There's nothing that has been on this kind of scale". "Having said that, the region is quite hard to operate: huge waves, the weather isn't very easy".
The discovery, which also includes some light oil, could prompt a rush of activity offshore by other companies, especially since South Africa is due to introduce new oil and gas legislation later this year aimed at spurring exploration. The count was as low as 77 in 2017.