Game On As Australian Oil & Gas Explorer Sets Sights On E. Africa

Game On As Australian Oil & Gas Explorer Sets Sights On E. Africa

Woodside Petroleum, Australia’s largest oil and gas producer, said it plans to build a presence in Africa — especially East Africa — despite falling oil prices and a setback in its efforts in Tanzania, TheAustralian reports.

The appetite for frontier exploration among many companies is falling as a result of the drop in oil prices by about 50 percent over the past year, said Phil Loader, Woodside’s executive vice-president of global exploration. Loader spoke at the East Africa Oil and Gas Conference in Perth.

Lowered oil prices will inevitably result in some oil and gas companies focusing their spending on assets already in production, Loader said. Woodside, however, will continue to look for prospects.

Since 2012, the Perth-based company has been exploring in eight new countries including Morocco, Gabon and currently Cameroon, where it’s drilling the Cheetah-1 exploration well.

Woodside, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, entered a joint venture in Tanzania with Adelaide-based Beach Energy, but withdrew from the project this year after doing a ­seismic survey.

Despite having no formal presence in East Africa, Woodside sees opportunities both onshore and offshore for oil and gas, Loader said.

“There are some 95 onshore geological rift basins in East ­Africa,” he said. “Seven of these have discoveries in excess of half a billion barrels of oil equivalent, but a significant proportion remain ­either underexplored or ­totally unexplored.”

Much of East Africa’s offshore oil and gas potential is in water around 3500 meters deep, Loader said, and Woodside has experience exploring and developing gas resources at that depth.

Some East African countries have completed regional studies and are planning to release new exploration acreage. Woodside is well positioned to ­participate, Loader said. “Kenya, Madagascar and Uganda (are) already working towards a new phase of licensing, and Woodside will continue to evaluate these opportunities in line with our global strategy.”