Photo: Island Innovator rig; Source: Island Drilling

Rig kicks off drilling ops offshore South Africa

Oil and gas exploration company Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas has started drilling an exploration well on Block 2B offshore South Africa, using an Island Drilling-owned semi-submersible rig.

Island Drilling’s Island Innovator rig was hired for this assignment in March 2022. The rig was scheduled to embark on the drilling of the Gazania-1 well, located in Block 2B offshore South Africa, in the third quarter of 2022. As previously disclosed by Eco, the Island Innovator rig mobilised on 12 August 2022 and was expected to arrive and spud to the Gazania-1 well by the end of September 2022, subject to weather conditions. 

Eco, as the operator of the block through its subsidiary Azinam South Africa, holds a 50 per cent working interest (WI) while its JV partners are Africa Energy Corp (27.5 per cent WI), Panoro Energy (12.5 per cent WI), and Crown Energy (10 per cent WI). This block covers 3,062 square kilometres off the west coast of South Africa, 300 kilometres north of Cape Town with water depths ranging from 50 to 200 meters.

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In an update on Tuesday, Eco announced the arrival of the Island Innovator rig on Block 2B and the start of operations at the Gazania-1 exploration well, which is located 25 km offshore the Northern Cape in approximately 150 meters of water. The company explained that this well is being drilled to a depth of approximately 2,800 meters through a multizone pay section. This prospect is targeting over 300 million barrels of light oil and the well is being drilled up-dip of the AJ-1 discovery well, which proved approximately 50 million barrels of contingent resources.  

Colin Kinley, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Eco Atlantic, commented: “Drilling Gazania-1 offers a significant opportunity to South Africa to open up the Orange Basin. A number of prior discoveries in the region are changing the understanding of this basin both in South Africa and Namibia where recent multi-billion-barrel discoveries have opened the gate to a new era of economic and resource opportunity. The Discovery at AJ-1 is extremely helpful in creating the opportunity on the Gazaina-1 well that we are confident that the decades of science will prove out.”

Furthermore, pending discovery in the vertical section, the JV partners have the option to directionally drill a second sidetrack well from the main wellbore. Eco outlined that both the vertical well and the sidetrack optional well will be logged and then plugged back to the surface while the well will be sealed, plugged and the casing cut off below the surface. In addition, the firm underscored that no equipment will remain on the sea floor. 

Source: Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas
Source: Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas

“This well is being drilled to define the opportunity and the initial path in the basin. We are drilling this strictly as an exploration well. Once we have defined the resources here, South Africa and the JV partners will make its choices and we will determine the next stage of development,” underlined Kinley.

In separate statements, Eco’s partners, Panoro and Africa Energy, confirmed the start of operations on the Gazania-1 exploration well in the Orange Basin, which straddles the offshore waters of Namibia and South Africa, where major discoveries on both the Graff-1 well, drilled by Shell, and the Venus-1 well, drilled by TotalEnergies, were recently disclosed. The Gazania-1 well targets two large prospects in a syn-rift basin, similar to the oil accumulations discovered by Africa Energy’s technical team in Uganda and Kenya.

Jan Maier, Africa Energy’s VP Exploration, remarked: “We are excited to commence operations with the arrival of the rig on Block 2B. The block has significant resource potential in shallow water and contains the A-J1 discovery that flowed light sweet crude oil to surface. Gazania-1 is a relatively low-risk exploration well that will target two large oil prospects seven kilometres up-dip from A-J1.”

The 2012-built Island Innovator rig, tasked with drilling the Gazania-1 exploration well, is a 6th generation semi-submersible drilling, well intervention and completion unit of GM4000 WI enhanced design.

After completing the work on this exploration well, the rig will move to Mauritania to carry out plugging and abandonment activities in the Banda and Tiof fields. The Island Innovator rig also recently secured an assignment with Trident Energy, which will enable it to embark on a drilling campaign offshore Equatorial Guinea.

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