Total steps up Brulpadda gas exploration
Integrated oil and gas company Total says it has seen renewed exploration interest by a range of partners in its Brulpadda discovery of a potential one-billion barrels of gas in the Outeniqua basin, 175 km off the southern coast of South Africa.
It is also fast-tracking its planning to maximise the value of the block.
Total South Africa exploration and production MD Adewale Fayemi told delegates attending Africa Oil Week, in Cape Town, this week, that the Brulpadda play was now proven and that it had been largely de-risked. He described the find as a “groundbreaking and world-class” play.
Fayemi told delegates that, next month, Total would start two-dimensional and three-dimensional seismic surveys on other parts of the block to identify new prospects. Drilling of the other Padavissie prospects would be undertaken in the first quarter of next year.
Fayemi said innovation and boldness had paid off for Total, but that huge challenges remained, not least the extremely harsh weather conditions, with strong winds and an extremely fast current moving at 3 m a second.
Fayemi said the Brulpadda well had been completed in 61 days, below initial expectations. Some 57 m of gas and condensates had been struck. The company had initially drilled in the area in 2014 but had suspended exploration, when harsh weather wreaked havoc on its equipment.
Since then, a lot of engineering had been done, said Fayemi, while much had been learnt from the experience, with plenty of valuable data to guide the exploration. He said adjustments had been made to the selection of equipment, while a system had been designed to keep the equipment above water.
“If it’s above water you are able to care for it, maintain it, inspect it and prevent failure as far as possible,” said Fayemi.
A change in design had also improved the buoyancy of the equipment and enabled it to be more robust and able to withstand harsh conditions.
A high-frequency radar had been installed to detect the weather conditions and ocean currents, leading to a marked improvement in metocean forecasting. A strategy was also adapted to maximise operability and minimise the exposure to weather.
Fayemi said the multidisciplinary project team of meteorologists, marine specialists and operations specialists had experienced some unique challenges. The Agulhas current is the second fastest current in the world. The area is also known for its extremely strong winds and waves as high as 7.5 m.
Fayemi said challenges remained. The equipment was subject to stress and high vibrations, while prolonged operations remained a challenge.
Beyond the current block, he said Total intended expanding the exploration potential on other blocks and would explore all initiatives to conduct operations in the harsh weather environment more safely.
He called on the South African government to put an enabling environment in place to ensure investors can make full use of the opportunity.
A find would hold great benefits for South Africa, including a surge of taxable income.