Sunbird final scoping for Ibhubesi gas project

Australia's Sunbird Energy has the final scoping report under review for development of the Ibhubesi gas project off South Africa's Atlantic coast.

South Africa granted final approvals in June for Sunbird Energy's acquisition of Block 2A from Denver-based Forest Oil Corp.

Block 2A is 70 km off the coast of Northern Cape Province, about 380km northwest of Cape Town, in the Orange basin.  At it's closest point to the coast (60km), the water is 200-250m deep.

The block is currently in the fifth year of a 30-year production license granted by South Africa's Department of Mineral Resources. [The production right for the development of the Ibhubesi gas field was obtained in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (No. 28 of 2002) (MPRDA) in 2009 and approval in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA) in 2008.]

Sunbird Energy had executed a Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) in December 2012, to obtain control of the production license and operatorship through Sunbird Energy (Ibhubesi) Pty Ltd.

Final Scoping Report

In 2013, the company hired Cape Town-based CCA Environmental (Pty) Ltd. to compile an environmental management program (EMPr) addendum in terms of Section 39(6) of the MPRDA and to undertake a scoping and environmental impact assessment (EIA) process in terms of NEMA.

The Draft Scoping Report was issued in April 2014, and the Final Scoping Report was issued 13 August 2014, made available for a 30-day public review and comment period from 13 August to 12 September 2014.

Resource assessment

In October 2013, Sunbird Energy commissioned MHA Petroleum Consultants to study the prospectivity of Block 2A, in which the Ibhubesi Gas Project (IGP) is located. Denver-based MHA completed an independent resource assessment of the 5000sq km block in March 2014.

The objective of the independent evaluation was to identify the exploration potential of the block and thereby assess the volume of gas that could potentially deliver future incremental gas to the IGP project, which is South Africa's largest undeveloped gas discovery.

Sunbird Energy said that given the historically high exploration success rate within the block, in which 7 of 11 wells drilled to date discovered commercial volumes of gas, that there is a reasonable chance of further gas discoveries with which to build the gas portfolio and enhance the commercial potential of the IGP project.

Will Barker, MD of Sunbird Energy, said, “The booking of 220.8 billion cu m of best-estimate prospective resources for Block 2A, in and around Sunbird’s planned Ibhubesi gas project, confirms the significant exploration potential within a block that has a proven track record of exploration success with 7 of the 11 wells drilled to date encountering commercial gas volumes.

Development plans

Sunbird is considering either a floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) or a semisubmersible production platform. The production facility would be anchored on site and two subsea riser pipe lines would connect the subsea manifold to the on-board production facility.

The production facility would connect to a new, 400km-long, 14in. to 18in.-diameter offshore pipeline from the production facility to a shore-crossing site located between Grotto Bay and Duynefontein and one on the Saldanha peninsula. The pipeline would run parallel to the coast, close to the 200m contour line.

Sunbird also proposes an onshore pipeline between the shore-crossing site and the Ankerlig power station near Atlantis, and proposed end users in Saldanha; as well as an onshore gas receiving facility.

"During 2014, Sunbird will continue to pursue our development planning, engineering design and gas commercialization negotiations for the IGP. The completion of this material prospective resource evaluation provides Sunbird Energy with important information to increase the gas portfolio, provides a roadmap to focus future exploration activities and confirms the potential of the greater Block 2A to supply additional gas to the IGP and ultimately gas-to-power customers in the energy constrained South African market.”

Sunbird Energy holds 76% interest in the block and is the operator; PetroSA holds 24% interest.

Read more:

Cairn evaluating Block 1, RSA's Orange basin, 24 April 2014

Sunbird awards contract off South Africa, 13 September 2013

Sasoil, PetroSA to explore Orange basin, 21 June 2013

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