Island Innovator rig - Island Drilling

Spud date for exploration well off South Africa draws near

Oil and gas exploration company Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas and its partners are planning to spud an exploration well offshore South Africa in the third quarter of this year, using an Island Drilling-owned semi-submersible rig.

Island Innovator rig; Source: Island Drilling

The Gazania-1 well is located in Block 2B offshore South Africa. Eco, through its subsidiary Azinam South Africa, operates and holds a 50 per cent working interest (WI) in the block. The company plans to spud the well, 25km offshore of the Northern Cape in South Africa, in September 2022. The well will take approximately 25 days to drill. This was revealed by Eco in a statement on Wednesday.

As initially announced on 10 January 2022, Eco Atlantic acquired 100 per cent of Azinam Group, completing the transaction in late March. This increased its WI in all its existing Namibian licences PELs 97, 98, 99 and 100 to 85 per cent and led to a new country entry with two blocks offshore in the Orange Basin, South Africa; a 50 per cent WI and operatorship in Block 2B. The block contains the previous AJ-1 oil discovery with 56 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmbbl) Mean Contingent Resources of light oil and a 20 per cent WI in Block 3B/4B.

According to Eco, Block 3B/4B directly offsets the prolific multibillion barrels discoveries offshore Namibia announced earlier this year by Shell (Graff-1) and TotalEnergies (Venus-1).

Eco, as the operator of Block 2B, is leading the JV partnership comprised of Africa Energy Corp (27.5 per cent WI), Panoro Energy (12.5 per cent WI), and Crown Energy (10 per cent WI) in drilling the Gazania-1 exploration well in 3Q 2022. The well is being drilled 25km offshore in 150 meters of water and will be drilled to a depth of approximately 2,800 meters to target a stacked pay section up dip of the AJ-1 discovery and in the proven oil horizon.

Rig mobilising to South Africa in July

As reported in March 2022, Eco contracted the Island Innovator rig with Island Drilling Company, which will be mobilised from Bergen, Norway in the second half of July. The well is anticipated to be low pressure and low temperature based on the evaluation of all regional wells.

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It will be cased with three telescoped and cemented casings and will be drilled with water-based drilling fluids. The company plans to seal and plug the well after the test with no remaining equipment left on the sea floor. The sea floor well area was surveyed in 2021 to confirm there are no environmental or culturally sensitive concerns.

Colin Kinley, Co-Founder and COO of Eco Atlantic commented: “We have worked diligently with our drilling team and partners to define a safe and efficient drilling strategy for Gazania, to define drilling engineering to meet world standards of environmental protection and hopefully give South Africa access to its own oil resources.”

Kinley added: “We are currently on schedule to mobilize out of Norway in the third week of July and spud early in September. We anticipate approximately three to four weeks on site to drill the test well and then regardless of our findings we will seal off the well, ensure the site is completely restored and move off.”

Eco will base its operations in Cape Town to drill this “exciting opportunity”, which holds the potential of establishing a new over 300 million barrels light oil resource.