South Africa is a country with 27% of its population without work. Spirits have not been high for at least a decade; a struggling economy has been limping around entrenched and widespread governmental corruption. Thanks to a recent discovery, however, followed by an announcement by integrated oil and gas company Total, the country has perked up a little. Total said in a statement:

“We have made a significant gas condensate discovery on the Brulpadda prospects in the Outeniqua Basin, 175 kilometers off the southern coast of South Africa.”

The CEO of Total, Patrick Pouyanne, told journalists that there “could be around one billion barrels of global resources, gas and condensate light oil”. The site, in deep waters 175km off of the country’s southern coast, is in the proximity of a town named Mossel Bay. 

Kevin McLachlan, senior vice-president of exploration at Total told the Financial Times:

“With this discovery, Total has opened a new world-class gas and oil play and is well positioned to test several follow-on prospects on the same block.”

South Africa benefits greatly as well. The country has been relying on oil imports for its national needs - now it is right on the doorstep. Experts say the find could lead to a growth of South Africa’s economy to the tune of more than USD $73 billion - or R1 trillion.

With a rig to be set up just off the coastline the South African Oil and Gas Alliance will be focusing on how to develop the skills of workers and ensuring engineering professionals are prepared for the forthcoming projects.

The announcement of the discovery came just at the right time for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address. Ramaphosa hoped the speech would encourage investor confidence in the country. In the speech about Total’s discovery, he said:

“Last night I received a call from Minister Gwede Mantashe {Mineral Resources Minister}. He told me that the oil giant Total would be making a big announcement today about a new ‘world-class’ oil and gas discovery off the coast of South Africa. We are extremely encouraged by the report….. which some have described as a catalytic find. This could well be a game-changer for our country and will have significant consequences for our country’s energy security and the development of this industry. We congratulate Total and its various partners and wish them well in all their endeavours. Government will continue to develop legislation for the sector so that it is properly regulated for the interests of all concerned.”

Eye Witness News reported that PetroSA is also very happy with the announcement. Their gas-to-liquid plant is allegedly running lower than 50% of its design capacity. This is heartening for the labor market too with the likely growth in jobs, from rig to refinery.

The next step for Total is utilizing 3D seismic data measuring equipment, after which drilling can begin. The drilling alone will reportedly be the largest scale hydrocarbon exploration project in the world.



Works Cited

Keohane, David. “Total Strikes South African Oil and Gas Find.” Financial Times, Financial Times, 7 Feb. 2019, www.ft.com/content/07b7798c-2abc-11e9-a5ab-ff8ef2b976c7.

Lauren Isaacs. “SA Offshore Gas Find Could Yield 1 Billion Barrels, Says Total.” Eyewitness News, 7 Feb. 2019, ewn.co.za/2019/02/07/sa-offshore-gas-find-could-yield-1-billion-barrels-says-total.

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