New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: HRT to Start Drilling for Oil

Walvis Bay — HRT has begun drilling in the quest to find conclusive results on whether or not there is oil off the Namibian coast.

The Brazilian listed petroleum exploration firm started raising the more than N$2.7 billion required for exploration two years ago on various stock exchanges.

Last week the African subsidiary, HRT Africa, took delivery of the leased Transocean Mariana semi-submersible drilling unit. The rig will anchor 220 nautical miles off the coast in the Walvis Basin, where it will drill as deep as 7 000 feet. HRT is the second company to drill for conclusive results, following the drills done by another exploration firm Chariot Oil & Gas, whose results came back empty.

The two wells drilled were dry even though earlier seismic data indicated the presence of petroleum. Chariot Oil & Gas has now suspended its drilling activities in Namibian offshore waters until 2014. Chariot Oil & Gas Namibia is partly owned by Namibian petroleum aspirant entrepreneur Heindrich Swapo Ndume through Enigma Oil and Gas.

Two years ago HRT announced that it found more than '200 oil seeps' in Namibia's offshore basin, in deeper water in the Walvis and Orange basins, west of the Kudu gas field. HRT Africa features another Namibian petroleum aspirant entrepreneur Knowledge Katti. HRT however says its faith in the presence of oil in the Walvis and Orange basins is rooted in the fact that the two basins mirror the Santos and Campos basins in Brazil where the biggest crude oil discoveries have been made.

Hundreds of millions of years ago Africa and Brazil were one continent, hence the tectonic plates are the same. This has been confirmed by HRT Africa's exploration survey using 2D seismic data as well as ultra sound technology. "There are known analogues that are similar for petroleum systems found at Santos and Campos basin in Brazil," Dr Marcio Rocha Mello, chief executive officer for HRT Brazil said melodramatically two years ago.

Even though all tests have indicated that there is some sort of activity, there could still be disappointment in that the drilling results could unearth gas fields instead of oil fields. All tests so far indicate that. The only disappointment would be to find gas fields instead of oil fields.

"There is definitely not only water down there. It can be gas or oil. But it's not only water," Mello had said. HRT was so confident two years ago that the company made a public pledge to give N$10 000 to marine ecosystem preservation by this year - "a dollar for every oil barrel produced," in apparent reference to the amount of estimated oil reserves.

HRT Africa promised N$350 000 a year to marine preservation, by 2020, again a dollar for every oil barrel produced, which gives a production of 350 000 crude oil barrels per annum estimate. HRT has said the presence of Kudu gas is already an indication of oil presence, somewhere along the basins, and uses the example of a child and a mother. "If you find a baby crying you have to look for its mama," Mello famously uttered with the mother being the oil deposits.

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