Session 1: New Exploration Opportunities and Recent Advances in Southern African Offshore Basins
Frontier offshore basins of Southern Africa have proven to be rich in hydrocarbon source rocks with some prolific basins already under exploration. The Mozambican deep-water gas fields in the Rovuma Basin and have already resulted in plans for LNG projects with more potential in fairways that extend into Tanzania, the Zambezi Delta Basin, and further offshore. Off the coast of Namibia, exploration continues in the Orange Basin and deep water blocks offshore Angola have boasted significant discoveries, most recently being light oil in the Cuica exploration prospect. New exploration ventures in South Africa have reawakened interest for further exploration with the significant gas condensate discoveries in the Outeniqua Basin, which highlights the petroleum potential of up to 20 000 km2 of Early to Mid-Cretaceous rift and drift basins. Renewed interest in the extension of the Orange Basin off the west coast of South Africa and its potential for Mid-Cretaceous oil plays, has operators planning to drill key wells in the coming years. On the east coast of South Africa, the Natal and Zululand Basins too have good potential for an Aptian source rock.
Southern Africa countries have only scratched the surface of what hydrocarbon potential the offshore basins may hold, which promises exciting years of exploration to come. As the legislative routes begin to open up, investment opportunities for the offshore oil and gas market will grow along with an abundance of opportunities. This session theme aims to draw attention to Southern Africa’s vast hydrocarbon potential and to discuss the various active, innovative, and upcoming avenues for exploration to be found offshore.
Session 2: Exploring New Plays in a Challenging Environment
Few people realize that the search for oil and gas in South Africa goes back more than 125 years to 1873 when a letter to the Cape Argus referred to the discovery of black earth at the foot of table mountain “from which Petroleum is said to have been distilled” (South Africa’s oil search down the years – Eric Rosenthal). Since that time petroleum geologists have been actively searching for oil and gas plays in South Africa. First onshore in challenging environments and since 1969 offshore. Exploration for new plays in Southern Africa have expanded from South Africa to the neighboring countries. Recent discoveries in new plays in Mozambique and Tanzania have encouraged further exploration in Southern Africa. The industry has always been on the forefront of technology and geoscience in order to find new hydrocarbon plays and solutions to the ever more challenging environments. In the 60’s onshore drilling in Mozambique resulted in 459 day blowout in the Panda field which had to be extinguished with 4 relieve wells. In the early 1980’s Soekor attempted to drill the F-Q well close to the shelf edge and encountered challenging metocean conditions after which the attempt had to be abandoned until today. TotalEnergies attempted to drill the Brulpadda prospect proving a new hydrocarbon play in 2014 and were only successful in 2019 with special designed drilling equipment. New plays in ultra deep water are being tested in Namibia.
The processes and technologies to explore for new plays have changed tremendously in the last decade. From the integration and interpretation of data using Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain technology for securing the data management processes and providing added efficiency. Southern Africa has benefited from the growth in new technologies and these benefits continue to grow as can be witnessed with the Mozambique LNG development, the mooted deepest new wells in offshore Angola and Namibia. South Africa is not far behind with the hype of activity in its deep and ultradeep water spearheaded by TotalEnergies.
This session focuses on what is needed to identify new hydrocarbon plays and which technology could be employed to prove new plays in challenging environments and which technology should be improved to achieve this.
Session 3: Worldwide Analogues to Better Understand the Deep Water of Southern African Basins
In E&P industry the most cost intensive projects are exploring in Deep waters. In recent years many discoveries are being made across Southern African deep water Petroleum systems, especially in Mozambique, Tanzania, and recently in South Africa. Each discovery presents a new challenge, starting from data acquisition, processing, mapping (API) and finally to drilling, production and development. We have to learn from these discoveries to mitigate risk and minimize cost of production to make it profitable. Global analogues are widely used across the Exploration and Production (E&P) life cycle to meet these challenges. Analogues, used in conjunction with primary data, expand the knowledge of both the individual and team and develop insights that are not possible from using either local data or individual experience in isolation. Difficulties in the application of analogues arise when the analogues are not selected consistently, are too specific, or are in conflict with empirical local data. Most of these difficulties arise from the lack of a proper definition of analogues, absence of a systematic method of analogue selection, and poorly defined objectives for the use of analogues.
Analogues are herein defined as comparable fields and reservoirs relevant to a specific question or set of questions. To select appropriate analogues, Explorationist should focus on specific individual question(s) instead of “look-alike” fields, as each field has its unique adversity.
Papers and speakers in this section are invited to present case studies for Proved, probable and possible petroleum systems in deep water and their appropriate application of global analogues to a local situation, as this will not only fosters creative thinking but also provides a way to quickly learn, increase confidence, and efficiently reduce risk for E&P decision-making.
Session 4: Infrastructure and Upstream Development Potential
The development phase of an oil field life cycle follows a successful appraisal phase and is commonly the most investment intensive phase of a project which focuses on economical evaluation and risk management. Critical operating decisions for field development planning and execution are made involving many different stakeholders including those involved in understanding the subsurface deliverability of the hydrocarbon reservoirs, and those involved in the design and manufacture of facilities and pipelines. Key decisions include selection of fields for development, subsurface recovery design, well design, platform installation and sizes, field network and facilities design, as well as expected production of oil and gas from selected fields.
With several large hydrocarbon discoveries offshore Southern Africa in recent years, many operators are now moving into field development planning aimed at optimizing complex economic objectives. The decisions made require consideration of a number of physical and practical factors such as, existing infrastructure in place offshore Southern Africa and at the nearest port, facility requirements based on hydrocarbon composition and flow profiles, and the production planning schedule for each project. In addition to these considerations, operators are required to work within the legal, environmental and economic frameworks of the Production Sharing Agreements with local government. Final development plans may include a combination of; conventional platforms, tension leg platforms (TLPs), floating production system (FPS), floating production storage and offloading systems (FPSOs), floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG), subsea structures (flowlines, wellheads etc.) and more.
This session will discuss planning, optimization, and challenges related to infrastructure and field development offshore Southern Africa.
Session 5: Legislative Challenges, Local Content and Capacity Development
This session will look at the critical reforms brought by-laws and standards regarding regulating and supporting local content development of various countries in Southern Africa. These laws and regulations may include provisions to prioritise the national workforce in available jobs, the hiring of the foreign workforce only in exceptional circumstances and for jobs requiring critical skills, and the progressive replacement of the foreign workforce by the national workforce. One of the key issues to be discussed is establishing of training institutions/programmes in the Southern African countries for producing of sufficient local skills that would drive the oil and gas sector. The session will also reflect on local supplier development.
The legislation and regulations related to local content and capacity development in the Southern African region and Africa, in general, are slightly different to that of established IOC requirements, but the objectives pursued are similar to that of other countries. These objectives are all designed to increase the technical capacity of the locals and their economic participation in the oil and gas sector. African countries need to develop fair, balanced local content policies that create economic and educational opportunities for Africans without overtly burdening foreign investors and discouraging them from operating in Africa. This session will bring together other shining examples within the African continent, like; Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Angola, to share their experiences that supported the successful implementation of their local content development policies. The session will also explore barriers to local supplier development, with the view of addressing these.