• Michael Dynes

British Oil & Gas Explorer Tullow Oil Commences Namibia Offshore Drilling Programme

Investor interest in Namibia’s hydrocarbons potential received a major boost today following confirmation by the Ministry of Mines and Energy that Africa-focused oil and gas explorer Tullow Oil has begun drilling the Cormorant-1 prospect in the Walvis Bay offshore basin.

Tullow’s Petroleum Exploration License 37 (PEL 37), which embraces 17,295 square kilometres of territory in the country’s offshore region – approximately 420 kilometres south of the Namibian-Angolan border – holds out the prospect of becoming a new petroleum province.

Image courtesy of www.energy-pedia.com

The Cormorant-1 well is located in 545 meters of water, and will be drilled by the drillship Ocean Rig Poseidon to a depth of 3,830 metres subsea, which will test the oil potential in a mid-Cretaceous age marine sandstone system deposited around 100 million years ago. Drilling and evaluation of the well is expected to take about four to five weeks.

Cormorant is one of four large prospects mapped in a cluster of 3D seismic, all of which are located in the Tullow-operated PEL 37 offshore exploration block. PEL 37 has been operated by Tullow since 2013, when the London-listed oil and gas explorer took a 35% stake in the block then owned 95% by Australia’s Pancontinental Oil & Gas.

Tullow’s other partners are India’s ONGC Videsh which owns 30%; Canada’s Africa Energy which owns 10%; Namibia’s Paragon Investment Holdings which owns 5%, leaving Pancontinental with a 20% stake.

On its own, Cormorant-1 has the potential to contain a prospective resource of 124 million barrels of oil on an un-risked best estimate basis. Collectively, the four prospects have the potential to hold in excess of 900 million barrels of oil. In 2013, the drilling of the Wingat-1 and Murombe-1 wells in the block immediately south of PEL 37, confirmed the presence of mature, oil-prone rock in the Walvis Basin.

While no oil has yet been found in Namibia, the Southwest African country shares a similar geology with Brazil’s Campos and Santos hydrocarbons deposits, which were part of the same supercontinent Pangea that began to break up into separate continents more than 200 million years ago.

Confirmation of Cormoranat-1 hydrocarbons potential has the potential to transform Namibia’s offshore and onshore oil and gas prospects, and will be watched closely by global investors.

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