South African offshore gas project underway

Australian company Sunbird Energy recently announced that it was “pushing ahead” with the development of the Ibhubesi gas project off ’South Africa’s west coast.
This is expected to pave the way for a multi-billion rand investment that could significantly boost the country’s gas-to-electricity generation capacity.
Sunbird earlier announced that it received the necessary South African government approvals for its acquisition from US company, Forest Oil Corporation.
This established Sunbird as the operator of the gas field, with South African state oil and gas company PetroSA holding 24% of the licence.
Sunbird has a 76% stake in production – meaning that it also claims ‘right block 2A’, which covers a 5,000 km2 area within the Orange Basin.
Block 2A is located 380km north-west of Cape Town and 70km off the coast of the Northern Cape province.
According to Sunbird, more than $125million (R13.1 billion) has been invested in exploring and appraising the block since 2000, with commercial volumes of gas having been discovered in seven of 11 wells drilled to date.
Will Barker, managing director of Sunbird, said that South Africa’s energy market was both highly constrained and high-value, “creating a unique opportunity for Sunbird as the most advanced project for the supply of energy for the domestic market.
“We look forward to progressing gas sale negotiations with Eskom for the supply of gas to the existing Ankerlig Power station which is currently run on expensive diesel, and further exploring Block 2A’s upside potential.”
In March, the company announced that an independent assessment had determined that the block contained estimated prospective gas resources of 7.8-trillion cubic feet.
Last December, Sunbird signed a memorandum of understanding with South African state power company Eskom to jointly investigate supplying gas from Ibhubesi to Eskom’s 1 300 megawatt Ankerlig power station.
Eskom is currently developing plans to convert Ankerlig from an open cycle gas turbine to a closed cycle gas turbine plant, so that it can run on gas.
Barker added that Sunbird had been working to advance the project both technically and commercially, with upcoming milestones including completion of the preliminary field development plan, commencement of the front-end engineering and design studies, and progress on securing the necessary environmental approvals.