Photo: Island Innovator rig; Source: Island Drilling

No commercial hydrocarbons in exploration well offshore South Africa

Oil and gas exploration company Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas has completed drilling of an exploration well on Block 2B offshore South Africa but came up empty as no commercial hydrocarbons were encountered. However, the operator is proceeding with its plans for more exploration wells.

The Island Drilling-owned Island Innovator semi-submersible rig spud the Gazania-1 exploration well on Block 2B at the start of October. This block covers 3,062 square kilometers off the west coast of South Africa, 300 kilometers north of Cape Town with water depths ranging from 50 to 200 meters.

Eco, as the operator through its subsidiary Azinam South Africa, holds a 50 per cent working interest, while its partners are Africa Energy Corp (27.5 per cent), Panoro Energy (12.5 per cent), and Crown Energy (10 per cent).

In an update on Friday, Eco disclosed that the Gazania-1 exploration well was drilled to a total depth of 2,360 meters. The operator confirmed that subsea and gases normally associated with light oil were encountered during the drilling, confirming that the active hydrocarbon system proven by the A-J1 discovery extends up-dip to the Gazania-1 well location. Early interpretation indicates that the trapping mechanism is not effective at this location.

“Gases normally associated with light oil were encountered throughout the drilling of the Gazania-1 well. This, in our view, confirms the active hydrocarbon system, proven by the A-J1 discovery well in 1988, extends to the part of the basin where the Gazania-1 well is located. Further seismic interpretation will likely lead to the definition of viable areas for trapping downdip of Gazania-1 closer to the 1988 oil discovery A-J1,” said Colin Kinley, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Eco Atlantic.

“While the well results are obviously disappointing at this location, we remain optimistic for this basin and look forward to continuing our exploration efforts.”

The well will now be plugged and abandoned as planned. Well logging is currently ongoing and the partners plan to undertake an analysis of the results, which will inform future plans.

Additionally, a Production Right application was submitted to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) on 15 November for Block 2B based on the existing oil discovery of AJ-1 and potential future operations. The partners said they thus have time to conduct further analysis and integration of the Gazania-1 well data to determine the next steps on the block. 

To remind, Soekor discovered and tested oil on the block in 1988 with the A-J1 borehole, which intersected thick reservoir sandstones between 2,985 meters and 3,350 meters. The well flowed 191 barrels of oil per day of 36-degree API oil from a 10-meter sandstone interval at approximately 3,250 meters.

Significant prospectivity was identified over the A-J graben area using 686 square kilometers of 3D seismic data acquired in 2013.

Eco Atlantic announced it will, alongside its joint venture partners, move on to executing plans for more exploration wells, including a two-well campaign on Block 3B/4B offshore South Africa planned to begin in 2023, and at least one well into Cretaceous targets on the Orinduik Block offshore Guyana. 

Gil Holzman, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Eco Atlantic, stated: “While it is naturally disappointing not having made a commercial discovery, the Gazania-1 well was only the first of four wells we have planned for the next 18-24 months across our wider portfolio. We now move on to executing our plans for more exploration wells. A collaborative farm-out process on 3B/4B has been ongoing with the operator and JV partners and we look forward to updating the market on this in due course.”