Zimbabwe is inching closer to making a commercial discovery of oil and gas after Invictus Energy last week said results from initial evaluation of data from its Mukuyu-1 well site showed strong evidence of gas-bearing zones.
Invictus had earlier indicated that data collected during the actual drilling also exhibited encouraging characteristics associated with the presence of oil and gas.
The Australia Stock Exchange-listed company commenced exploration drilling at its Mukuyu-1 prospect in Mbire, Mashonaland Central province, in September this year.
In a statement on Friday, Invictus said it had decided to drill beyond the initial target depth of 3,5 kilometres.
It will now proceed to bring in more sophisticated equipment for further tests and evaluation of the drill-hole to determine whether the hydrocarbons exist in commercially viable quantities.
If the company makes a commercial discovery, Zimbabwe will join other countries in the region, among them Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia, which recently discovered petroleum deposits.
In oil and gas, an explorer may either drill a dry hole, where no evidence of hydrocarbons exists, or achieve technical discovery through petroleum deposits that are not exploitable.
A commercial discovery, on the other hand, consists of moveable, viable and extractable petroleum deposits.
Invictus managing director Mr Scott Macmillan said preliminary evaluation from the early stage of the initial testing of the current drill-hole section had been encouraging, indicating multiple potential gas-bearing zones.
“However, the presence of moveable hydrocarbons will be determined following the wireline formation testing programme, which will be run following the arrival of the wireline formation testing tool at the well site,” Mr Macmillan said.
Formation testers are a class of wireline tools used to measure the down-hole pressure of formations of oil and gas
The tests ascertain if there are enough hydrocarbons (petroleum deposits) to produce from a well, as well as provide important information to design oil or gas wells and production facilities.
Invictus said in the interim, it had elected to drill further down to test the deeper potential of the remaining rock formations, which will also provide valuable geological and geophysical information for future wells in the basin.
“We anticipate the remaining activities will require a further five to seven days to complete, following which final well results will be provided,” Mr Macmillan said.
Invictus’ principal asset is the special grant (SG) 4571 located in the Cahora Bassa Basin (Muzarabani and Mbire) in Zimbabwe, which contains the world-class Mukuyu (Muzarabani) prospect, the largest undrilled prospect in onshore Africa, independently estimated to contain 20 trillion cubic feet and 845 million barrels of conventional gas condensate.
The firm’s other asset, exclusive prospecting order (EPO) 1849, contains the basin margin drill tar with an estimated 1,2 billion barrels of oil across five drill-ready prospects, which will be tested by the Baobab-1 well.
The potential discovery of oil and gas presents a potential breakthrough for Zimbabwe, as it could guarantee energy security, create new jobs and drive economic and export growth.
The mining sector, under which the oil and gas sub-sector falls, is expected to contribute US$12 billion annually to the economy by 2023, providing a major stepping stone towards the national vision of transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
Treasury stands to benefit from a share of the proceeds as per the production-sharing agreement presently being negotiated between the Government and Invictus.
The company recently commended the extensive and timely support it had received from the Government, for example, through legislation-backed agreements, which has enabled it to make rapid progress in implementing the project.
During the signing ceremony for a petroleum exploration development and production agreement at State House last year, President Mnangagwa said the benefits of oil and gas discovery included electricity generation; production of liquid petroleum as well as liquefied petroleum gas; and the production of fertiliser and petrochemicals.
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