AUSTRALIAN firm Invictus Energy broke new ground after becoming the first oil and gas exploration firm to complete a ground seismic survey in the country, with preliminary results exhibiting highly encouraging potential of hosting hydrocarbons.
The Australia Stock Exchange (ASX)-listed company is exploring for oil and gas in the Muzarabani area after acquiring data gathered by American oil giant Mobil in the early 1990s.
The Muzarabani prospect is the largest undrilled seismic structure onshore Africa and is estimated to host a staggering 9,25 trillion cubic feet and 200 million barrels of gas condensate (light oil).
Commercial discovery of oil and gas will bring significant direct and indirect benefits for Zimbabwe, which seeks to grow mining to a US$12 billion industry by 2023.
Invictus announced last week that it had completed the seismic campaign in the Cahora Bassa area of Muzarabani, north of Zimbabwe, which will enable it to pick precise locations for high-impact opening basin drilling.
The listed oil and gas exploration junior expects to sink the first-ever exploration well in Zimbabwe in the first half of next year.
“It is the first in about 30 years. Mobil did seismics in the early 80s.
“Mobil did an airborne seismic survey using aircraft and this (Invictus’) was ground-based using vibroseis trucks,” said Invictus Energy director Mr Paul Chimbodza.
“So, in fact, it is the first-ever such ground-based seismic survey to be undertaken in the country.”
Invictus managing director Mr Scott MacMillan said the seismic survey that the Australian firm has recently completed was the second after the one by Mobil in 1990.
However, he pointed out that Mobil’s study was “at a reconnaissance scale in terms of the spacing line at 15-20 kilometres apart to have a look at the basin configuration”.
“Our spacing is 1,5 kilometres apart and designed to identify specific drilling targets. Our survey was done with vibroseis units as the source, whereas Mobil used dynamite source.
“But this is the first (seismic) survey since 1990 and technology has moved on considerably since then,” Mr McMillan said.
Canadian firm Polaris Natural Resources was awarded the contract to undertake the seismic survey in Muzarabani.
The firm has extensive experience in Africa.
The company acquired 839km of high-resolution 2D seismic data, 402km in its Special Grant 4571 licence and another 437km of contiguous data in an existing application area.
This is well in excess of Invictus Energy’s minimum work programme obligations of 300km of 2D seismic for the current licence period, which runs to June 2024.
“The completion of the CB21 seismic survey is a significant milestone for the company in our exploration programme in the Cahora Bassa Basin,” Mr MacMillan said in a statement earlier last week.
He said the better imaging over the giant Muzarabani structure was encouraging and once the interpretation of the full dataset was completed, the company would refine the location for the basin opening Muzarabani-1 exploration well.
Invictus has already signed a Petroleum Exploration Development and Production Agreement (PEDPA) with the Government.
The PEDPA provides the framework for the progression of the Cahora Bassa project through exploration, appraisal, development and production phases of the project, as well as the rights and obligations of each party over the project life cycle.
President Mnangagwa, who was the guest of honour at the signing of the PEDPA in April this year, said the agreement represented major strides in Zimbabwe’s efforts to tap into its oil and gas deposits, which is a new territory in the country’s mining sector.