Total has made a significant gas condensate discovery on the Brulpadda prospects, in the Outeniqua basin, off the coast of Mossel Bay. Picture: SUPPLIED
Total has made a significant gas condensate discovery on the Brulpadda prospects, in the Outeniqua basin, off the coast of Mossel Bay. Picture: SUPPLIED

Total’s oil and gas rig has arrived in Cape Town in preparation to expand on the petroleum giant’s significant discovery off the coast of Mossel Bay.

The rig, known as the DeepSea Stavanger, was built in Norway and commissioned by Total and its partners to drill the Luiperd prospect in the same block in the Outeniqua basin where Total’s Brulpadda discovery was made

The initial find at Brulpadda, which was announced in early 2019, indicated that the whole area could hold about 1-billion barrels of oil-equivalent gas, which, by some estimates, could add R1-trillion to the SA economy over 20 years.

Total’s continued activity comes at a time when oil and gas majors are still reeling from the effects of ultra-low oil prices amid the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting them to drastically cut costs and abandon a number of projects.

In a statement, the department of mineral resources & energy said the DeepSea Stavanger rig is part of a $400m (R6.95bn) oil and gas exploration drilling campaign by Total, of which R1.5bn will be spent in SA through the hospitality industry, offshore services and equipment, and the training and contracting of local companies to support the drilling programme. The drill rig’s arrival “reaffirms confidence in SA as an investment destination of choice for the exploration of oil and gas”, the department said.  

The deep and torrid waters off the Mossel Bay coast have proved challenging and drilling activities are targeted for the summer months, when conditions are calmer. The drilling campaign is expected to last between 180 and 300 days.

The department said the government will be supporting the project by finalising the Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill, which “aims to strike a balance between the need to attract investment into this key sector of the economy, and ensuring that oil and gas activities do not happen at the expense of the environment and water resources”. The draft bill was published on Christmas Eve in 2019.

The department said Total’s investment will further enable SA to “diversify its energy mix, as envisioned in the Integrated Resources Plan, by using all the primary energy resources that the country is endowed with, including gas”.

steynl@businesslive.co.za

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