Q&A with David Sturd, Chief Operating Officer of Azinam Limited
David Sturt, Chief Operating Officer of Azinam Limited, a Namibia-focused exploration company, will be speaking at Africa Oil Week in Cape Town in November. He tells us why he is so excited to be exploring in the region.
David Sturt holds an MSc in Exploration Geophysics from the University of Leeds. He joined Azimuth Group in April 2012, and as well as being COO of Azinam he is also SVP – Technical of the Azimuth Group (Indonesia, UK, Norway, Ireland, Namibia, Brazil and Honduras).
David has over 30 years of exploration and production experience, gained from working for a number of companies throughout the world, including in West Africa, South East Asia, Central Asia and Russia.
Why Namibia for Hydrocarbons?
Surrounded by the resource-rich countries of South Africa, Angola and Botswana, Namibia is ideally placed to be the next great African frontier. The country has increasingly attracted supermajor attention thanks to its attractive fiscal regime and political stability, and the Ministry of Mines and Energy are unceasing in their support of operating companies such as Azinam. Namibia has an excellent infrastructure: developed and well-maintained roadways and telecommunications channels, an exclusive modern electricity distribution grid, modern ports, banking and all the key support services required in modern business. In fact, Namibia’s infrastructure stands out among the best in the continent of Africa.
What excites you about the hydrocarbon potential of deepwater Namibia?
The significant oil potential in the deepwater areas offshore Namibia! HRT’s 2013 Wingat-1 well on neighboring acreage to two of our blocks has demonstrated that there is a working petroleum system. Since then, consolidating technical work and high resolution seismic surveys have enabled us to de-risk our exciting prospects.
Is hydrocarbon exploration in Namibia challenging from the administrative viewpoint?
No, not at all; the Namibian government has developed ‘opendoor’ policy systems. They listen carefully to the operators with an effort to try and provide solutions to any challenges faced. The data rooms at the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR) are well managed and they have access to abundant information to make decisions which benefit both the country and the operating companies.
Are there geological or technological challenges for deepwater Namibia?
The geological conditions are excellent and there are discoveries with proven petroleum systems. Namibia, through the Kudu discovery, was seen as a primarily gas play, which has been a challenge to materialize. But now, since the wildcat (Wingat-1), we have proven Aptian source rocks. There is good local technology and no barriers to companies importing additional technology and support if and when required. Namibia’s supply chain, like the rest of the world, is now at a much lower cost base. From a technical perspective Azinam are chasing significant liquid plays, so the timing is right to unlock this next great frontier.
You will be speaking at 25th Africa Oil Week. What do you hope to gain from the conference?
We are very excited to be hosting the Namibian exploration spotlight panel at this year’s Africa Oil Week. The panel is an excellent mix of operating companies and government representatives that will create a lively discussion focused on deepwater exploration. We hope to share our insights about what we know about the potential for oil and gas in Namibia and also learn more from our fellow operators and government partners, based on their experiences and understanding.
What would you say to someone considering deepwater hydrocarbon exploration off southern Africa?
We encourage companies to join us (Tullow Oil, GALP, ONGC, Total, Shell and new players ExxonMobil as well as a host of key junior explorers) in deepwater exploration off southern Africa. The fiscal regimes are highly attractive, and the scale of opportunity is tremendous.