French oil major Total and its project partners are set to resume drilling at block 11B/12B in the Luiperd prospect – where Total in early 2019 flagged potential resources of 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent – in September.
Operations in the block, which are located in the Outeniqua Basin approximately 175 Km off the southern coast of South Africa – have been delayed by several months due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. According to total’s partner, Canadian oil and gas firm Africa Energy Corp, the Deepsea Stavanger semi-submersible rig departed Bergen, Norway last week, for South Africa to start a multi-well drilling program.
Africa Energy has a 49% shareholding in South African consortium Main Street, which holds a 10% participating interest in Block 11B/12B.Total is the operator and has a 45% interest, while Qatar’s state-owned QP and Toronto-listed Canadian Natural Resources have 25% and 20% respectively.
The discovery sparked renewed interest in South Africa’s exploration sector, but uncertainty over a delayed revision of the legislative framework for petroleum exploration has held back investment.
In 2018, the government scrapped a reform of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, paving the way for the upstream petroleum and mining industries to establish independent regulatory structures. In December it published an upstream development Bill for which the consultation period ended on 21 February. The next step towards adopting the bill is for the cabinet to consider the legislation, but this has been delayed by COVID-19.