An Australian oil and gas exploration company says it has found high quality natural gas deposits in northeastern Zimbabwe, after months of exploration.
Invictus Energy announced that the analysis of samples it collected last year in the north of Zimbabwe, near the border with Mozambique, "definitively proves the presence of hydrocarbons in multiple reservoir pay zones".
Invictus Energy signed an exploration, development and production deal with Zimbabwe in 2018, and exploration started in August in the Cabora Bassa Basin, some 200 kilometres north of the capital, Harare, which is estimated to hold 20 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Along with light oil and gas condensate, Invictus Energy announced it also also found the presence of helium gas "in commercial concentrations" in the Mukuyu-1 well, the company said in a statement.
Helium is used in the production of semi-conductors and liquid crystal display (LCD) panels.
Boost for energy shortages
The discovery could lead to Zimbabwe's first gas production, and under the government's agreement with Invictus Energy, it is entitled to as much as 60 percent of the project's output, which would help boost electricity shortages.
Invictus Energy plans to build a gas-to-power facility to supply the national grid, which suffers up to 19 hours of cuts each day.
But it could be years before commercial production on any of the deposits begins. Mozambique only started exporting liquefied natural gas last year after discovering reserves off its coast in 2010.
Invictus Energy revisited data and exploration done by US oil company ExxonMObil in the 1990s, which it abandoned without finding anything.
It is planning to drill another exploration well in the same area later this year.