Norway’s Statoil Makes South African Debut With ExxonMobil Deal

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Norwegian energy company Statoil said Thursday it has agreed to buy a 35 percent stake in South Africa’s Tugela South exploration license from U.S.-based ExxonMobil Corp  — its first venture in the country.

This will give Statoil a minority stake in the deepwater basin from Exxon Mobil, UPI reports.

Exxon Mobil is the world’s fourth-largest oil and gas company and the fifth-largest company in the world, earning $394.11 billion in revenue in 2014, according to Fortune. Statoil ranks No. 25 in the world of oil and gas companies, and is the 75th-largest company in the world, with 2014 revenue of $82.48 billion.

Falling oil prices and the dire state of Africa’s oil and gas industry do present opportunities for some, Mail&Guardian reported in August.

PwC’s Africa Oil and Gas Review 2015 found that many survey respondents were suffering because of the reduced prices, and were plagued by issues such as regulatory uncertainty and corruption.

But a few respondents said the lower oil price would enable increased exploration and development because contractor and rig costs were lower.

The Norwegian oil-and-gas company said it is studying potential reserves off the coast of South Africa for the first time.

Tugela South exploration basin covers about 3,500 square miles in depths are up to 1.1 miles.

South Africa has limited proven reserves of oil and natural gas, according to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The country may have “notable” shale gas reserves onshore, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has said. All the country’s estimated 15 million barrels of proved oil reserves are located offshore, UPI reports.

Statoil did not disclose the cost of the transaction, and offered no estimate of the reserve potential in South Africa, UPI said.

Statoil is present in Angola, Tanzania, Algeria, and Nigeria, Capital reports.

“This opportunity is in line with Statoil’s exploration strategy of access at scale,” said Nick Maden, a regional vice president for Statoil, in a prepared statement. “It represents access into a frontier basin where we believe we see indications of an active petroleum system and which has impact potential.”

Statoil’s joint venture partners in the license include ExxonMobil, who is the operator and retains a 40 percent interest following the completion of the deal, and Impact Africa Limited, which holds the remaining 25 percent interest, Rigzone reports.

Work commitments in the license between 2015 and 2017 include the acquisition of 386 square miles of 3D seismic data and geology and geophysics studies, according to Rigzone. The next steps in the exploration will depend on information obtained from the seismic survey and initial studies.

Maden said the deal will strengthen Statoil’s long-term international portfolio.