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Mozambique: Successful First Well

Recent discoveries by Anadarko in Mozambique have propelled that country to the fore in the hydrocarbon industry in the last year, and the first well drilled in offshore Area 4 looks set to continue the trend.
This article appeared in Vol. 8, No. 6 - 2012

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Fishermen on the beach in northern Mozambique. Source: Stig Nygaard Source: Modified from Instituto Nacional de Petróleo The license, which covers 17,646 km² and is located in water up to 2,600m deep, is approximately 2,000 km north of the capital of Maputo. More importantly, it lies in the Rovuma Basin, immediately to the east of Area 1, the license in which the recent Windjammer, Barquentine, Lagosta and Camarão group of discoveries is thought to hold at least 10 Tcf of recoverable natural gas.  

Originally Eni announced on October 20 that its Mamba South-1 well contained in place reserves in the region of 15 Tcfg, reservoired in 212m of continuous high quality Oligocene sands. These results exceeded pre-drill expectations and confirmed that the Rovuma Basin, almost unexplored until last year, is a world-class natural gas province. However, drilling continued and a week later the company announced that the Mamba South field could actually contain as much as 22.5 Tcf gas in place. The well had encountered a separate pool in good Eocene sands, with about 90m of gross pay. Eni states that both sequences have been successfully cored. The well, which is located approximately 40 km off the coast of Cabo Delgado, the northernmost province of Mozambique, in water 1,585m deep, is continuing to drill towards target depth of 5,000m, after which Eni will move the rig approximately 22 km to the north to drill the Mamba North prospect.  

This discovery promises to be a game changer for Eni, which is the operator of Offshore Area 4, as it is the largest operated discovery in the company’s exploration history. It holds a 70% interest, with the other partners being Galp Energia, KOGAS and ENH, each with 10% shares. The company is already looking at ways of developing and exporting the gas, and with the Area 1 discoveries, operated by Anadarko, lying so close, some structure sharing could be envisaged.  

The volumes of gas recently discovered should also impact on the people and the economy of Mozambique. According to the CIA Factbook, at independence in 1975 Mozambique was one of the world’s poorest countries, and mismanagement and a brutal civil war from 1977 to 1992 exacerbated the situation. Since then, however, the country has stabilized and the economy has grown substantially – but over 50% of the population still live below the poverty line and the infant mortality rate is 7.9% of live births. Mozambique produces no oil and less than 120 Bcf gas per year, and while at the moment the local market for these commodities is not huge, its energy-hungry neighbour South Africa would be very happy to use any gas Mozambique chooses to export.

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