Namibia: NAMCOR and QatarEnergy confirm new light oil discovery on PEL 39

The National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR) has confirmed that the Jonker-1X well has discovered light oil within PEL 39 in the Orange Basin offshore Namibia. This is the third successful well in the license after the drilling of Graff-1 and La Rona-1 last year.

PEL 39 comprises of Blocks 2913A and 2914B, operated by Shell along with partners Qatar Energy and NAMCOR. Shell resumed drilling with the Deepsea Bollsta in December 2022 and has the rig mobilized in Namibia until at least November 2023, Hawilti’s Offshore Rigs Tracker shows.

“The Jonker-1X well was drilled to a total depth of 6,168 meters in a water depth of 2,210 meters. The acquired data is being evaluated while further appraisal is planned to determine the size and recoverable potential of the discovery,” QatarEnergy said.

Shell is yet to make any official announcement on Jonker-1 or to confirm the estimated reserves it has discovered since 2022. Early industry estimates have assumed that Graff alone could hold 700 million barrels of recoverable oil and could be developed via a new FPSO and a possible FLNG solution.

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Could 2023 be a record high for offshore drilling in Africa?

Despite a very tight offshore rig supply market, 2023 might set a new 10-year high for Africa’s offshore drilling market as several development, infill, and exploration campaigns get executed this year. According to the Offshore Rigs Tracker released this week by Hawilti and the Caverton Offshore Support Group (COSG) Plc, over 30 rigs are already confirmed to be active offshore sub-Saharan Africa this year, with more in the pipeline. Angola will continue to dominate the market like it has for a couple of years. The country has six floaters already contracted until at least 2024. Based on its pipeline of brownfield and greenfield projects, it will continue to drive deep-water drilling activity until at least 2026. All international oil companies (IOCs) have active rigs in the country, especially TotalEnergies (3), Azule Energy (2), Chevron (1), and ExxonMobil (1). They are actively pursuing infill drilling campaigns and subsea tie-back schemes on their producing FPSO units, while targeting infrastructure-led exploration opportunities. “We continue to witness an upsurge in drilling activity offshore West Africa despite the offshore rigs supply getting tight,” said Capt. Ibrahim Bello, Managing Director of Caverton Helicopters. “More drilling contracts are currently in negotiations across the region for both exploratory and development drilling, which could make 2023 one of the biggest years for offshore drilling activity on the continent since the crisis of 2014.” Nigeria’s offshore industry is also maintaining the momentum of drilling activity it saw in 2022 with at least five offshore rigs scheduled to be active in the country this year. Shell’s subsidiary SNEPCO and TotalEnergies both have floaters mobilized for most of the year on their respective deep-water blocks, OML 118 and OML 130. However, most of Nigeria’s demand is for jack-ups in shallow water, driven by key players such as Chevron, First E&P, General Hydrocarbons, and Damas E&P. After Angola and Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Gabon are the next most active offshore drilling destinations in sub-Saharan Africa. Both countries are seeking to mitigate their production decline with additional infill drilling, development drilling, and exploratory drilling. Several campaigns are currently taking place there, including exploratory drilling by Eni in Congo and CNOOC in Gabon. Across the rest of the continent, significant development and exploratory drilling campaigns are also on the table this year, including in Senegal and Namibia. While the former is drilling to start producing oil and export LNG, the latter has all the industry’s attention as both Shell and TotalEnergies seek to confirm significant oil and gas discoveries made in the Orange Basin. The Offshore Rigs Tracker Q1 2023 can be downloaded for free here.  

DP World and Somaliland Government open new Berbera Economic Zone

Dubai’s DP World and the Government of Somaliland have inaugurated this week the first phase of the new Berbera Economic Zone (BEZ) located next to Port of Berbera where a container terminal opened in June 2021. The BEZ is located along the Berbera Corridor that connects Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa and has access to a rapidly growing region with a population of over 140 million people. Its initial phase notably offers 10,000 square metres of pre-built warehouses, build-to-suit facilities, open yard storage, and a common user warehouse. “DP World has already signed an agreement with IFFCO, a major UAE-based food company, to develop a 300,000 square feet edible oil packing plant in the BEZ and a dozen more companies operating across various sectors have already registered,” DP World said in a statement. The event was also attended by British International Investment (BII), which partnered with DP World in 2021 to invest $1bn into the African ports of Dakar (Senegal), Sokhna (Egypt) and Berbera (Somaliland). The United Arab Emirates has become a significant investor into Somaliland’s infrastructure. At the end of 2021, Dubai-based Transport Infrastructure Services Limited (TISL) notably completed the renovation of the Berbera International Airport.