Total builds on Brulpadda success to herald South Africa’s new oil era

total oil era saOne of the most important discoveries of the year took place 175km off the southern coast of South Africa where Total has made a gas condensate discovery on the Brulpadda prospects, located on Block 11B/12B in the Outeniqua Basin

The exploration well encountered 57 metres of net gas condensate play in Lower Cretaceous reservoirs. Following the success of the main objective, the well was deepened to a final depth of 3,633 metres and has also been successful in the Brulpadda-deep prospect.

Speaking at Africa Oil Week last week, Dr Enzo Insalaco, vice-president for exploration Africa at Total explained, “When you look at the fundamentals, you can see a scenario where there are a number of significant, relatively underexplored basins and many of the play fundamentals are present in these places. We see that there's a lot of scope for exploration and significant potential.”

That interest has been illustrated by the recent activity by the industry, which has seen a significant amount of seismic capture and blocks being taken in Namibia and South Africa.

“Much of that activity is early-stage, so 2D or 3D,” Insalaco added. “What we will see in the next few years is an uptick in reservoir drilling and exploration. We have a strong position in the oil basin, so we have a couple of blocks in the Orange Basin and in South Africa the 11B/12B block where this discovery was made.”

Opening a new petroleum basin

For Total, Brulpadda was certainly a high impact well for opening up what they believe is a significant petroleum basin. “It was a very bold technical well,” Insalaco continued. “Many people may not realise that the well was actually drilled on 2D. It is a deep offshore well, so drilling on 2D was a very bold move. But given our understanding of the basin and the innovations we did on the operations, this well could be drilled safely and successfully on 2D.”

“As we know, it was an operational success just as much as a technical success; we drilled the well within budget, within time and in terms of NPT we have about three per cent of NPT and three per cent waiting on weather. If you consider the conditions, that is fantastic operational performance. We drilled the well to the main reservoir log and then we went down to a deeper reservoir.”

A fast track to production

The fact that Total drilled the prospect on basic 2D seismic data meant that they needed to hit the ground running in the discovery scenario. They planned for success and were ready to shoot the 3D campaign as soon as they were comfortable that the well was successful and there was going to be potential on the basin.

“We were ready for 3D, we were already negotiating contracts on the way,” Insalaco added. “When you look at the milestones on the well you can see that we finished our P&A in the first week of February. The rig moved offsite the middle of February, and the first 3D seismic shot was done on 14 March.”

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