AUSTRALIAN-BASED mineral exploration firm Invictus Energy Limited will commence searching for oil deposits in 2019 in Muzarabani along the Cahora Bassa basin that stretches from Zimbabwe to Mozambique in a multi-million dollar venture expected to transform the country’s energy sector, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
Recent exploration studies show that Muzarabani, in Mashonaland Central province, could be holding significant oil deposits.
Invictus Energy CE Scott Mcmillan said the oil deposits around Muzarabani could last for 25 years once extraction commences.
“We are looking at investing for a very long time and the project will take 25 years to complete. We are committing the shareholders’ money, so we don’t take it lightly. In five years I don’t see a return, but it will only depend on the size of the resource. We think it could have a serious contribution to the economy,” Mcmillan told the Independent this week.
He said, as part of the exploration exercise, Invictus Energy would drill a number of wells, with the cost of sinking a 4,5-kilometre deep single well estimated at US$20 million.
Invictus Energy says the deep lacustrine (lake) source rock type in the Cahora Bassa basin was not widely regarded 25 years ago as having significant oil-generating potential.
“By the end of next year we will start drilling. Hiring equipment will take between US$15 million to US$20 million to drill each well. Dozens of wells will ultimately be drilled over the life of the project,” Mcmillan said.
Recent multi-billion barrel oil discoveries in onshore African rift basins like the Albertine Graben in Uganda and the Lokichar Basin in Kenya were derived from deep lacustrine source rocks contained in the basins.
Current basin modelling demonstrates that the Muzarabani Prospect may lie within both the light oil generation window (at the crest of the structure) and the wet-gas generation window (on the flanks of the structure) due to size of the structure and significant vertical relief. Macmillan admitted risk, saying the company was not guaranteed of discovering oil and gas at the basin but was confident that preliminary studies had shown potential.
“This is risk capital, there is no guarantee. Because of the geological risk, we are committing millions to explore oil and gas on the basin. We are reinterpreting the data Mobil acquired and applying morden techniques of exploration. Once we finish, we will select which prospect we are going to drill. We think that the base has good potential in terms of petroleum and gas,” Macmillan said.
Invictus was awarded the exploration permit in August last year following head-butting with former president Robert Mugabe’s government, accused of dragging the process.
“I don’t know why they were denying us the permit. We spent a long time lobbying government but we were never given reasons why they didn’t grant us. This is such a welcome change to have a new government in place,” Macmillan said.
“The conditions are better now than they have ever been in a very long time. The issues of remittances and guaranteeing of property rights will go a long way in fostering good progress. The government has been welcoming; they are genuinely interested in what we are doing,” he added.