News Oil & Gas

Zim on cusp of oil, gas breakthrough


The Sunday Mail

Golden Sibanda

Australian Securities Exchange (ASX)-listed oil and gas firm Invictus Energy has started assembling drilling equipment at its Mukuyu-1 prospect in Muzarabani, Mashonaland Central, ahead of exploration drilling later this month, raising prospects Zimbabwe could be on the cusp of a major transformative breakthrough.

Commercial discovery of oil and gas would result in energy self-sufficiency, massive job creation, export growth, infrastructure development and new downstream industries.

The project has already been granted national project status, while the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) licence, which was due to expire this year, has been extended by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) until next year.

The prospective resource estimate at Mukuyu-1 was recently revised by consultancy firm ERCE 2,7-fold to 20 trillion cubic feet of gas and 845 million barrels of conventional condensate on a gross mean unrisked basis.

This consolidates the Muzarabani project area’s position as one of the largest under-explored seismically defined bodies onshore in Africa.

Invictus managing director Mr Scott Macmillan told The Sunday Mail Business the company had started assembling key drilling equipment at the targeted site in preparation for test well drilling to investigate potential presence of petroleum deposits.

Exalo rig 202, which was recently mobilised from Tanzania’s Songo Songo area, is in the process of being assembled.

Drilling will only resume after some maintenance work.

“The mobilisation of the rig is nearly complete and the last loads of the (Exalo) 202 rig will be at Mukuyu-1 wellsite early next week (this week),” said Mr Macmillan.

“The majority of casing, cement and mud products have also arrived at site and the well services gear from Baker Hughes such as wireline (electric logging), cementing and mud-logging units and measuring while drilling packages will begin to arrive over the next fortnight either at the wellsite or at our supply base in Harare to undergo servicing and preparation before being deployed to wellsite.”

He said wireline-logging operations use sophisticated tools which are lowered into the well on an electric cable to take different measurements of samples from the borehole and reservoirs.

The cable is armoured and contains electric conductors.

“As the logging tools go down the hole, monitor and evaluate the rock, they measure the electrical resistivity of the rock, and because the resistivity is different in rock where the pore spaces are filled with water or gas or oil, we can determine what the contents of the pore space is.”

The tools will also measure the density of the rock.

“Water, oil and gas have different densities and this assists us to determine the fluid fill of the pore space,” added Macmillan.

The acreage of licence area special grant 4571 increased from 100 000 to 709 300 hectares after an agreement with the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe (SWFZ) to extend the licence to cover the SWFZ’s Cahora Bassa South Reserved Area.

Speaking after signing of the agreement earlier this year, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said Invictus had committed to securing an additional rig slot and associated equipment to drill a second test well.

“The parties are exploring the possible collaboration to develop upstream natural gas opportunities in Zimbabwe and on September 28, 2021, the SWFZ  authorised Geo Associates to extend its data capture programme into the reserved area,” said Prof Ncube then.

Strides

Speaking at the signing ceremony of the Petroleum Exploration Development and Production Agreement (PEDPA) with Invictus at State House last year, President Mnangagwa said the agreement represented major strides in Zimbabwe’s efforts to tap into its oil and gas deposits.

The PEDPA provides the framework for progression of the Cahora Bassa Project through the exploration, appraisal, development and production phases, the obligations and rights of each party, the minimum work programme obligations to maintain the licence in good standing, and the security of tenure for the project duration.

The parties will also sign a proposed Petroleum Production and Sharing Agreement (PPSA) — administered by the Ministry of Energy  and Power Development — which contains the fiscal provisions of the project, including Zimbabwe’s profit/production share.

Communities around Muzarabani and Mbire in Mashonaland Central province have begun benefiting from Invictus’ corporate social responsibility programmes.

The project will prioritise locals for most job opportunities.

Oil accounts for approximately 3 percent of the global gross domestic product and is one of the most important commodities in the world.

Petroleum products can be found in everything from personal protective equipment, plastics, chemicals and fertilisers through to aspirin, clothing, fuel for transportation and even solar panels.

Zimbabwe is a commodity-based economy, depending largely on gold, platinum group metals, nickel, chrome, diamond, coal, lithium and copper, among others.

Commercial discovery of oil and gas would bring immense economic benefits for the country, which is targeting to grow the mining industry to a US$12 billion economy by next year.



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