By Sully Manope, in Cape Town
Successes of wildcat drilling in the African frontier in the last decade have been part of the staple of headline oil and gas stories.The world’s leading oil and gas scouts and analysts have touted the continent as the site of the largest number of discoveries in the last five years.
But Tony Hayward, Chairman of Genel Energy and former CEO of BP, says it’s time to scrutinize the “successes” of 2006 to 2016. Only one of the basin opening discoveries of the decade ever reached first oil. And explorers have fruitlessly attempted to “repeat” that miracle. “By my count more than 50 wells have been drilled at a cost of billions of dollars – along the transform margin seeking to replicate Kosmos in Ghana – with so far only very limited success”, Mr. Hayward said, at the Africa Oil Week in Cape Town recently.
“Even in the proven hydrocarbon provinces such as Angola, the exploration success has been far more limited than was predicted only a few years ago – something that I know only too well!” It turns out, he said that “the sub salt of Brazil really is not that good an analogue for Angola and that the conjugate margin in Brazil doesn’t have much to do with Namibia – and the Jubilee trend really isn’t a trend.
”And Nova Scotia and Morocco don’t have much in common when it comes to oil and gas – and …the list goes on and on”.
Mr. Hayward, who replaced the legendary Lord Browne as BP’s CEO in 2007 and had his tenure cut short by his handling of the Deep Horizon spill three years after told the audience in Cape Town, that “the industry has become very good at discovering seismically calibrated gas on the continental margin of Africa both east and west – to the point where it’s fair to say there’s enough gas on both margins to last a very long time.
“But when it comes to oil the last decade has been very disappointing.”