Six junior mining companies have been awarded hydrocarbon exploration licenses totaling 30 132 km2 in the Northern Cape, North West and Free State, by the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA).
The exploration licenses cover exploratory wells and could yield a gross petroleum resource potential of 1.06 billion barrels of oil. In a bid to show their commitment, the Department of Energy and Minerals and PASA are working on finding alternative sources of energy in the form of oil and gas, to substitute or supplement coal.
ORM Exploration, which is one of the junior companies that was awarded a license, conducted preliminary research into the identified areas with technical cooperation permits.
“It is exciting, as it shows that exploration, particularly onshore is getting the backing it deserves. And we are buoyed by the recent developments around liquefied natural gas prospects, as some of our assets lie adjacent to territories with known gas seepages,” Chris Dorrington, Managing Director of ORM Exploration says.
Alumni Energy Investments CEO Shakes Motsilili highlighted that the companies are forging a big data approach to hydrocarbon exploration and this will be their primary focus for the three-year duration of the new licenses. The licenses allow Alumni Energy Investments to perform on-the-ground activity, including taking soil samples and telluric analysis.
“This is going to require a significant exploration program. It’s a big step towards implementing what we hope will lead to a natural gas to electricity strategy in a relatively short timeframe. Such a large acreage has the potential to change the energy landscape should it lead to even a modest hydrocarbon find,” said Motsilili.
PASA plans to capitalize on the renewed interest in South Africa’s oil and gas exploration, following the announcement made by Total and its partners in February 2019, about a large gas discovery off the South African coast.