Australian operator Sunbird Energy Ltd. has awarded a contract to Wood Group Kenny (WGK) Australia  to provide engineering and project management services for the Ibhubesi gas project, off the west coast of South Africa.

The initial phase of WGK’s work involves concept and definition, with the objective of moving the project into FEED in Q1 2014. The project is likely to include a subsea gathering system, an offshore processing facility, a subsea pipeline, about 400 km (248.5 mi.) in length, and an onshore plant.

Last month, the US Trade and Development Agency awarded a grant to Sunbird Energy to fund a subsurface development plan for the Ibhubesi gas field. The Aug. 23 USTDA press release said Sunbird Energy selected US-based MHA Associates (Denver, Colorado) to carry out the study.

Sunbird Energy acquired a 76% stake in Production Right Block 2A, which encompasses the Ibhubesi gas field, from Forest Oil Corp. and Anschutz Corp. in 2012.

The block covers 5,000sq km within the Orange basin, and the gas project is about 380km northwest of Cape Town and 105km off the coast of Northern Cape Province.

Since 1981, 11 wells have been drilled on the Ibhubesi project, resulting in 7 gas discovery wells. Between 2001 and 2004, eight wells were drilled and tested, and 1,770sq km of 3D seismic was acquired. Since 1998, US$120 million has been invested in exploration and appraisal of the block.

Proved and probable (2P) reserves are 540Bcf of natural gas and 4.3 MMbbl of condensate.

The Ibhubesi gas project has multiple development opportunities to supply the South African energy market. Sunbird’s joint venture partner in the project is PetroSA (24%), the national oil company of South Africa.