From the modest pencil sharpener to denim, margarine, aspirin and much more, South Africans enjoy a number of the achievements of the French as part of their everyday lifestyle. And we can soon add another to the list, thanks to pioneering French multinational Total, whose punt on the treacherous deep waters off SA was rewarded with a significant gas find. Last week, on the morning of the state of the nation address, Total announced it had drilled to a depth of 3.63km beneath the deep waters of the Outeniqua Basin and discovered about 57m of gas condensate — gas with traces of premium-quality oil. The well is located in a block 175km off Mossel Bay, where Total Exploration & Production SA is the operator in a joint venture with Canadian Natural Resources, Qatar Petroleum and Main Street, an SA consortium. The well is the first to be drilled in SA deep waters and posed some serious challenges to Total and its partners, which abandoned a previous attempt in 2014 due to the harsh envir...

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