oil and gas rig Deepsea Stavanger
Deepsea Stavanger starts mobilisation to South Africa. Image: @VesselFinder.

South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, has welcomed the arrival of oil and gas drill rig DeepSea Stavanger, in Cape Town.

The rig was commissioned by petroleum giant Total and its partners to drill the Luiperd prospect in Block 11B/12B off the Mossel Bay coast in the Western Cape.

Block 11B/12B is located in the Outeniqua Basin 175 kilometres off the southern coast of South Africa.

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In a statement, the minister said the arrival of the drill rig, which follows the recent successful Brulpadda gas condensate discovery, reaffirms confidence in South Africa as an investment destination of choice for the exploration of oil and gas.

This is despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economies around the world.

The semi-submersible drilling rig set had been idling in Norway because of the COVID-19 enforced lockdowns, but will now make its way to Luiperd-1.

This is reputed to be the largest prospect in the Paddavissie Fairway (an 18,000 square kilometre block which Total has been prospecting for years) on which the Brulpadda itself is hosted. The rig is also the same one which drilled the Brulpadda discovery in February 2019.

Deepsea Stavanger is part of a $400million oil and gas exploration drilling campaign by Total of which R1.5billion ($85.5million) will be spent in South Africa through the hospitality industry; off-shore service and equipment; and training and contracting of local companies to support the drilling programme. The drilling campaign is expected to last between 180 and 300 days.

In the statement Mantashe said the investment will further enable South Africa to diversify its energy mix as envisioned in the Integrated Resources Plan, by using all the primary energy resources the country has at its disposal, including gas.

On the policy side the South African government will support the project by finalising the Upstream Petroleum Bill.

The proposed bill aims to strike a balance between the need to attract investment into this key sector of the economy while ensuring that oil and gas activities do not negatively impact on the environment and water resources.