Invictus Energy calls a halt to 'unfeasible' first exploration well in Zimbabwe

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  • Invictus Energy says work on its Mukuyu-1 drill site in Zimbabwe has stopped. 
  • But the company has set its sights on drilling a second well later this year.
  • There's a roughly one in 10 chance chance of finding oil in countries like Zimbabwe with little history of drilling. 
  • For more financial news, go to the News24 Business front page.

Invictus Energy, an Australian-listed company that is looking for oil in Zimbabwe, on Tuesday announced that prospecting for oil at its Mukuyu-1 site had become impractical and it would be winding up operations.

"Further attempts to obtain a fluid sample are not feasible and the company will conclude operations on Mukuyu-1 and ST1 and demobilise the well services equipment and personnel," the firm said in a statement.

Invictus started drilling at its Mukuyu-1 site in September 2022. 

In an earlier interview with News24, the company's managing director, Scott MacMillan, said they expected to drill for 45 to 60 days. They had hoped to find up to 20 trillion cubic feet and 845 million barrels of gas condensate.

Invictus spent R272 million in exploration costs over the past four years.

Staying put 

Some of the reasons for the failure given by the company this week include the poor performance of drilling equipment and difficult terrain. But the company is not leaving Zimbabwe. 

Invictus is planning on drilling another well within a year, given that the first well "established the presence of multiple gas zones and potentially liquid hydrocarbon-bearing intervals."

Invictus hired Exalo Drilling SA, a European onshore drilling contractor, for the job. Since it intends to drill another well, Exalo's equipment will remain in the country. 

"The highly encouraging results from the initial Mukuyu-1 and sidetrack well have provided the company with the confidence to keep Rig 202 warm stacked at the Mukuyu-1 location whilst preparations are made for the future drilling campaign for at least one firm well in 2023, with further wells to be agreed," Invictus said.

According to the Energy Institute, a global professional body for the energy sector, "wildcat wells" in areas such as Zimbabwe where drilling for oil or natural gas is unproven have just a 10.6% chance of finding deposits.

This means out of a hundred drill sites, only around 10 wells would strike it lucky. 

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.


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