COVID-19 Forces Mozambique to Abandon Gas Exploration Exercise
Mozambique’s National Hydrocarbon Company (ENH) has been forced by the raging COVID-19 pandemic to interrupt the exploratory opening of wells in the country’s Buzi district, in the central province of Sofala, a report at the weekend by All Africa said. The search for hydrocarbons in the Buzi district resumed early this year after initial attempts in the 1960s.
The operators in Buzi are ENH and Buzi Hydrocarbons PTE Ltd, a subsidiary of the Indonesian company Energi Mega Persada. An exploratory well, known as BS-2, was drilled in Buzi in May.
The All Africa report said the spread of COVID-19 has led ENH and its Indonesian partner to inform the regulator, the National Petroleum Institute (INP) that it is interrupting operations.
“This is a complex activity, undertaken by a considerable number of workers, including expatriates. Since it is obligatory to comply with the procedures laid down by the government concerning people and goods entering and leaving Mozambican territory, the companies could not proceed with the due rotation of staff,” a note on the INP website was quoted.
So, operations at BS2 have been cut back to maintaining the drilling platform. The well has already reached the depth of 836 metres (out of a planned 1,548 metres). It is the second well drilled recently in Buzi.
The first, BS1, is about a kilometre away and reached a depth of 1,567 metres on 10 March. During the drilling the occurrence of natural gas was noted, but tests will be required to determine whether this is a commercially viable discovery. Each of the two Buzi wells is budgeted at 15.2 million US dollars.
“It is expected that, as soon as the state of emergency is lifted, and the conditions for movement are normalised, the BS1 and BS2 wells will be completed and duly tested to verify the flow and amount of natural gas”, the INP further stated.
All Africa said a concession agreement was signed with Buzi Hydrocarbons in 2010, envisaging the drilling of two wells in the second and third periods of exploration. The first research period was devoted to analysing seismic data, some of which dated back to the initial exploration attempts of the 1960s. 300 kilometres of pre-existing 2D seismic data was reprocessed, and 1,650 kilometres of data was reinterpreted. Buzi Hydrocarbons acquired, processed and interpreted 600 kilometres of new seismic 2D data.
By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja