Shell Seeks Permission To Drill Off South Africa’s West Coast

By Ebi Kesiena
Oil and gas giant, Shell is seeking authorization to drill ultra-deepwater wells offshore South Africa, aiming to extend recent discoveries off Namibia into South Africa’s west coast.

This was contained in a draft environmental assessment by independent consultancy SLR obtained by reuters on Tuesday.

Analysts suggest that some offshore formations shared between South Africa and Namibia, currently a hotspot for deepwater exploration could hold significant resource potential.

Shell’s local subsidiary and joint venture partners will require governmental environmental authorization before commencing drilling in the Northern Cape Ultra Deep Block (NCUD) in the Orange Basin offshore South Africa.

Shell and fellow supermajor TotalEnergies have already made significant discoveries offshore Namibia, sparking an oil rush in the country in 2022. Over the past two years, Shell has announced four oil and gas discoveries in the Orange Basin offshore Namibia.

The basin extends into South African waters, and major companies are now looking to explore these areas, hoping to uncover resources similar to those found in Namibia. However, bureaucratic hurdles and legal challenges have slowed exploration efforts off South Africa’s west coast.

TotalEnergies has already shown interest in future exploration in the Orange Basin in South Africa. Earlier this year, TotalEnergies and QatarEnergy expanded their efforts in the region by acquiring a nearby license in the South African waters of the Orange Basin.

“Following the Venus success in Namibia, TotalEnergies is continuing to progress its exploration effort in the Orange Basin by entering this promising exploration license in South Africa,” said Kevin McLachlan, Senior Vice-President Exploration of TotalEnergies, in March.

At the same time, TotalEnergies is reportedly considering exiting its natural gas discoveries in Brulpadda and Luiperd offshore South Africa to focus on exploration areas closer to Namibia.

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