Zimbabwe could be sitting on at least 5,5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), according to latest independent professional estimates of Australian firm, Invictus Energy’s oil and gas prospective assets in the northern province of Mashonaland Central.
In the oil industry, an oil barrel is defined as 42 US gallons or 158 987 litres. Oil companies on US stock exchanges typically report their production in terms of volume and use the units bbl (one barrel), or kbbl or Mbbl (one kilobarrel, one thousand barrels), or MMbbl (one million barrels).
Invictus’ resource estimates have significantly bolstered prospects of potential discovery of oil or gas from its Mbire and Muzarabani (Cahora Bassa region) assets and placed Zimbabwe at par with East Africa prior to successful discoveries in Uganda and Kenya.
Beset by unending crippling power outages due to an acute shortage of electricity, both the Government and Invictus believe successful discovery of oil and gas by Invictus would end nearly two decades of a suffocating energy deficit and turn the country into a net exporter.
Evidence from further processing of data gathered by US petroleum giant Mobil in the early 90s and results from the Cahora Bassa seismic (sub-surface vibration) survey (CB21) commissioned by Invictus in September last year, strongly supported potential existence of hydrocarbons in the targeted prospective areas.
Romania based Exalo Drilling S.A, was awarded the contract to undertake the exploration drilling at Mukuyu-1 and Baobab. Exalo shipped into the country its rig 202, which had been contracted for similar work in Tanzania.
Invictus said yesterday it had received an updated independent technical report from European energy consulting group, ERCE, estimating substantial additional resource potential at Cahora Bassa, in the Basin Margin Area (boundary) of the recently assigned Exclusive Prospecting Order 1849.
EPO 1849 was issued to allow the Australian company additional exploration acreage following an agreement between Invictus and the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe (SWFZ), which held rights to the rest of the Cahora Bassa prospective region.
This comes as Invictus has already started exploration drilling at its Mukuyu-1 prospect (EPO 4571) in Mbire district of Mashonaland Central province, where the exploration junior is targeting 20 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) gas condensate, approximately 4,3 billion boe.
ERCE estimates the gross mean recoverable conventional potential of the additional Basin Margin Area at a combined 1,171 billion barrels of conventional oil on a gross mean unrisked (not adjusted on chance of commerciality) basis.
The prospective resource estimate includes the Baobab, Acacia, Marula, Mukamba and Mimosa prospects, but excludes additional leads along the basin boundary and central fairway (exploration) area, which adds to the previous known independent resource estimate of 4,3 billion boe.
“This adds to the prospective resource upgrade at Mukuyu, announced in an ASX release on July 5 2022, taking the estimated total prospective resource base for the Cahora Bassa project portfolio to a combined 5,5 billion boe,” Invictus said in a statement.
A barrel of oil equivalent (boe) is a term used to summarise the amount of energy that is equivalent to the amount of energy found in a barrel of crude oil. By encompassing different types of energy resources into one figure, analysts, investors, and management can assess the total amount of energy the firm can access.
Invictus expects to drill to a depth of 3,5 kilometres at Mukuyu-1 and 1,5 kilometres at Baobab. About US$15 million would be invested into sinking the first well while a further US$10 million would go into drilling the second test well.
This substantial resource potential in the targeted oil and gas fields places the prospective areas at comparable scale to the prolific East African Rift System that resulted in material discoveries in the “String of Pearls” plays in Kenya and Uganda.
The ERCE prospective resource estimate incorporates new data from the Cahora Bassa 2D Seismic Survey, which has provided the company with a material portfolio of high potential prospects and leads. The CB21 survey firmed up the potential for multiple stacked hydrocarbon bearing zones in the newly identified Basin Margin play (group of oil fields), as announced on September 2 2022.
The Basin Margin oil fields will initially be tested by the Baobab-1 well, which displays similar characteristics to the play (similar or related group of oil fields) opening discoveries in the Lokichar Basin in Kenya and Albertine Graben in Uganda.
ERCE has estimated prospective resources using both a conventional oil case and a gas condensate case as there is hydrocarbon phase uncertainty associated with the source rock depositional type and thermal history.
The Baobab-1 well pad construction is underway and scheduled for completion to allow for the rig move and subsequent drilling to commence immediately following the completion of the Mukuyu-1 well, which spudded on September 23 and is prognosed to take approximately 50 to 60 days to drill and evaluate.
Baobab displays similar structural characteristics to the basin opening Ngamia discovery drilled in the Lokichar Basin in Kenya.
The material prospective resource estimate for the five drill ready Basin Margin prospects confirms the high potential and quality of our acreage and prospect and lead inventory. Prior to the acquisition of the CB21 Seismic Survey we recognised the potential for the Basin
Margin to evolve into a substantial play due to the structural similarities we observed with the East African Rift “String of Pearls” play.
“Invictus has built and matured a high quality and material portfolio of prospects and leads from a conceptual play initially identified on sparse vintage data to multiple drill ready prospects with 1,2 billion barrels of potential.
“Our basin master position encompassing the entire conventional oil and gas play fairway, multiple play types to target and over 5,5 billion boe potential provides us with substantial running room.
“Subject to making an opening discovery with either Mukuyu-1 or Baobab-1, it could potentially provide us with future discoveries on a large scale within the basin.”
ERCE is an independent consultancy specialising in petroleum reservoir evaluation. The work has been supervised by Adam Becis, general manager of ERCE’s Asia Pacific office, and a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Society of Petroleum Evaluation
Engineers. Becis is experienced assessing petroleum reserves and resources estimates with over 15 years’ relevant industry experience.
Invictus is opening one of the last untested large frontier rift basins in onshore Africa – the Cabora Bassa Basin – in northern Zimbabwe through a high impact exploration program. The Company’s principal asset is SG 4571 located in the Cabora Bassa Basin in Zimbabwe which contains the world class Mukuyu (Muzarabani) prospect – the largest undrilled prospect onshore Africa independently estimated to contain 20 Tcf and 845 million barrels of conventional gas condensate (gross mean unrisked basis).
EPO 1849 contains the Basin Margin play with an estimated 1,2 billion barrels of oil (gross mean unrisked) across five drill ready prospects, which will be tested by the Baobab-1 well.