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Sasol gets geared up for Mozambique comeback

South African player eyeing seismic and could return to drill after 10-year absence

Sasol Petroleum is set to return to exploration work on Block 16/19 off Mozambique after a decade-long drilling hiatus.

The South African player is planning to acquire 2D or 3D seismic data over a number of leads it has identified in cyclone-prone shallow waters and could drill at least one exploration well if justified by interpretation of these data.

According to environmental documents filed by Golder Associates, the offshore survey would likely last about four months and would probably entail some 1500 line kilometres of 2D data or about 1780 square kilometres of 3D seismic data.

This operation would take place in water depths of less than 50 metres just north of the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (BANP).

However, documents did not specify when the seismic acquisition would take place.

If Sasol decides to drill, the campaign would involve one wildcat and up to two appraisal wells, with expectation that each well would take two months to complete.

A jack-up is currently the preferred type of drilling rig.

If offshore operations progress, Sasol will have to account for the rich ecosystem of the BANP that includes seagrass meadows, mangrove swamps and corals, which host a variety of marine species including the endangered dugong.

The proposed project will be subject to an environmental, social and impact assessment report with interested parties having until 26 July to comment on Golders’ environmental pre-feasibility and scope definition report.

Sasol was awarded Block 16/19 in 2005 and the following year an environmental impact assessment focused on a deep-water area was carried out.

Some 2100 square kilometres of 3D seismic data were shot over the area of interest with two exploration wells — Njika-1 and Njika-2 — drilled in 2008-2009.

These resulted in the discovery of non-commercial volumes of gas in Lower Grudja formations and led to the deep-water part of the block being relinquished.

Sasol then turned its attention to the Tubarao lead close to the mainland coast but its prospectivity was later downgraded.

Instead, the operator homed in on three other leads — Tubarao East, Tuburao Central and Tuburao North — and concluded that new seismic had to be acquired to de-risk and better define these structures and also evaluate further hydrocarbon potential in the block.

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