The world's largest publicly traded oil and gas company, Exxon Mobil, has signed an agreement to begin offshore exploration activities on the east coast of South Africa through its affiliate ExxonMobil Exploration and Production South Africa, the company announced on Monday.
The agreement was signed with Impact Africa Limited - a subsidiary of British Impact Oil and Gas Limited - to acquire a 75% participating interest and become operator in the Tugela South Exploration Right.
Under the agreement, ExxonMobil Exploration also has the right to acquire 75% interests in future exploration rights in three offshore areas, subject to South African government approval.
"We believe South Africa has significant potential and we will continue to look for additional opportunities there," said ExxonMobil Exploration president, Stephen Greenlee.
The Tugela South Exploration Right covers about 2.8-million acres offshore Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. It has water depths extending from the coastline to approximately 6 500 feet [about 1.98 kilometres].
The future exploration rights cover an additional 16-million acres offshore with water depths extending from the coastline to approximately 9 800 feet [2.99 kilometres], ExxonMobil said.
"Separately, the ExxonMobil affiliate also has executed a technical cooperation permit with the South African government to study the hydrocarbon potential of the Deepwater Durban Basin covering approximately 12.4-million acres offshore Durban," the company said.
The permit allows exclusive rights to study an area for a year.