Yemisi Izuora/Agency Report
South Africa is reportedly making frantic efforts at positioning itself to become an energy hub and key player as the sub-Saharan Africa region rapidly transforms into a natural gas authority, given major recent natural gas discoveries.
The country is buoyed by a significant gas condensate discovery 175 kilometers off its southern coast of the Indian Ocean, as announced by Total earlier this year.
The Brulpadda (Bullfrog) well – located off the shore of Mossel Bay – is one of several highly anticipated exploration prospects for the company.
There are indications the field could hold between 500 million to over 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
In the light of the opportunities presented in the regional and domestic natural gas sector, the country is refining its long-term natural gas industrialisation policy.
It is anticipated this would maximise the multiplier effects of the natural gas resources domestically and the entire Southern African region.
Government believes an appropriate natural gas industrial policy will allow South Africa and the Southern African Development (SADC) bloc to optimise the utilisation of natural gas, maximise its multiplier effect potential and drive regional integration.
Dr Rob Davies, the Minister of Trade and Industry, said following the experience of re-industrialisation of the United States of America, on the back of major gas finds, and the Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) development trajectory, the potential for the realisation of significant long-term onshore value in South Africa and the region are substantial.
“Whether or not South Africa discovers its own commercially viable natural gas resources, it will play a major role in driving onshore demand and the development of the regional resources,” Davies said.
Outside the country, South African companies have increasingly showed interest in regionalizing and expanding their businesses.
While its firms are established in neighbouring Mozambique’s LNG sector, South African companies are making forays into Angola, the continent’s second largest producer of crude oil (after Nigeria).
Angola recently released a new oil licensing strategy up to 2025.
With its lucrative opportunities and reformed business environment, it is set to host a delegation of South African companies during the upcoming Angola Oil and Gas Conference, scheduled for the capital Luanda in the first week of June.
Guillaume Doane, Chief Executive Officer of Africa Oil and Power, said the economic reforms passed by the government of President João Lourenço and the opening of wide swathes of oil and gas fields constitute the single biggest exploration opportunity in the history of Angola.
“This is a new era for Angola that will herald the arrival of several new entrants to the market,” Doane said.
The Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) is among the new entrants. It is an entity of the Central Energy Fund (CEF), in charge of both developing a robust domestic energy market and securing the energy supplies South Africa needs to support its economy.
SFF is already the owner and operator of South Sudan’s Block B2, under an exploration and production sharing agreement signed in early May.