The southwest African country of Namibia is one of the few large, virtually undrilled, offshore frontiers for oil and gas exploration left in the world. The four offshore basins would normally have been extensively explored by now, but for the unusual circumstances of the United Nations mandate of 1976, which voided all concessions granted to foreign companies by the government of South Africa. Successful exploration in the West Africa salt basins to the north in Angola and Gabon, and the Kudu gas discovery in the northern part of the Orange Basin in southern Namibia, provide encouraging clues about the potential of Namibia’s offshore basins.
All of the requirements for a productive basin are present in the Namibian offshore. Source rocks, reservoirs, and seals are all known to be present, and a wide array of play types can be recognized from the existing geophysical coverage. Light and Shimutwikeni (1991) estimated potential for 100 billion barrels of oil-in-place, using conservative estimates of trap size, porosity, oil-saturation and sand-shale ratios.
Namibia presents a reasonably attractive business climate, given the recent ending of decades of conflict. Democratic elections have led to a relatively stable political environment and a reasonably liberal investment climate. The administration appears to recognize the intensely competitive nature of the international oil and gas industry, and has responded by providing incentives and improved access to data, as well as more attractive terms in the second petroleum licensing round.
The availability of prospective acreage is exceptionally good with only five out of 32 offshore blocks under license as a result of the first bidding round in 1991. The second bidding round, running from October, 1994, to July, 1995, will offer additional blocks in the Lüderitz, Walvis and Namibe basins and access to new seismic data that support the idea of carbonate build-ups along the Namibian shelf.
Prior to the two wells drilled by Norsk Hydro and Ranger on acreage in the Walvis Basin (both wells dry and abandoned), the only wells drilled in the Namibian offshore were the Kudu gasfield discovery well, in 1973, and two successful stepout wells. The Kudu field – which contains 2-5 TCF of recoverable gas – is situated in the northern part of the Orange Basin. Shell is currently evaluating potential marketing alternatives for this gas which include sale via pipeline to South African electricity generators, an aluminum smelter, or a LNG export scheme. The three basins to the north might reasonably be expected to be more oil-prone.For more information contact:
Petrel Robertson Consulting Ltd.
500, 736- 8th Avenue S.W.
Phone: (403) 218-1618
Fax: (403) 262-9135
This summary, part of Petrel Robertson’s 1995 summary of exploration and development opportunities in 31 countries around the world, has not been updated. Some of the information, particularly relating to political and economic issues, is thus out of date. It is included, however, to demonstrate the breadth and depth of Petrel’s work in each of these nations.