Exploration drilling looks set to soar offshore Africa this year, according to Wood Mackenzie.
The consultant expects around 40 exploratory wells compared with the 24 completed in 2018, with Total and Eni leading the way, pursuing deepwater, high-impact prospects.
Later in the current quarter Total should complete its Brulpadda-1 AX wildcat offshore South Africa, targeting an estimated resource of more than 1 Bbbl.
In addition, the company will set a deepwater record for Africa with its Venus-1 well in the Southwest African coastal basin off southern Namibia in 3,000 m (9,842 ft) water depth.
Farther north off Angola, Total could exceed 3,000 m on ultra-deepwater block 48 where a commitment well could be drilled by the end of this year.
Eni will also drill at least one of up to four planned exploration wells in the south of Angola’s block 15/06, following its Kalimba-1 and Afoxe-1 oil discoveries in 2018. Another success should lead to a new cluster development.
Around mid-year the Italian major will likely start exploration in deepwater block A5-A in the Angoche basin off Mozambique, south of the prolific gas-prone Rovuma basin.
ExxonMobil operates adjacent block, A5-B, but may prefer to focus initially on blocks Z5-C and Z5-D, closer to existing discoveries in the Zambezi basin.
Wood Mackenzie foresees fewer final investment decisions (FIDs) across the region than last year but says that those that do go ahead will likely be much larger in scope.
Collectively these projects could run up $40 billion in investment and will lift the country’s gas production to 5 bcf/d.
Offshore Senegal, the consultant expects FID for the Woodside-operated 560-MMbbl deepwater SNE oilfield development during the second half of the year. Here subsea wells will be connected to an FPSO in two phases, with first oil in 2022.
BP’s Angola Block 18 West project will be a subsea tieback to the Greater PlutonioFPSO, and the partners have lined up a new FPSO for the Block 31 Southeast development.
State oil company Sonangol is seeking partners to invest in various deepwater licenses, including blocks 20 and 21, which are thought to hold more than 1.3 Bbbl of undeveloped liquids and 4.75 tcf of undeveloped gas.
So far 13 African countries have confirmed licensing rounds in 2019, with the most prospective acreage thought to be in Mozambique’s Rovuma basin, Senegal’s Bove basin and Angola’s Kwanza basin, all of which are predominantly deepwater and gas-prone.
Mature shallow water and oil-prone acreage will likely be offered in Gabon and Congo which will be more attractive to smaller to mid-size players. Other rounds planned by Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Sierra Leone could struggle to attract major players, the consultant suggested.