Oil and Natural Gas in South Africa

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According to Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), South Africa had proven oil reserves of 15 million barrels as of January 2007. All of the proven reserves are located offshore southern South Africa in the Bredasdorp basin. In 2006, South Africa produced 200,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil, of which 30,000 bbl/d was crude oil, and 170,000 bbl/d consisted of mostly synthetic liquids from coal and natural gas. Over 50 percent of South Africa’s oil consumption is imported. In 2006, South Africa consumed 519,000 bbl/d of oil, and imported 319,000 bbl/d of oil. According to the South African Petroleum Industries Association (SAPIA), the majority of crude oil imports destined for South African refineries come from the Middle East, with Iran and Saudi Arabia as the country’s chief suppliers. Nigeria and Angola (among others) also supply crude oil to South Africa.
In 2005, South Africa launched the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). NERSA regulates policy over the entire South African energy industry and is responsible for implementing South Africa’s energy plan. South Africa also has a national oil and natural gas company, the Petroleum Oil and Gas Corporation of South Africa (PetroSA). PetroSA is responsible for managing and promoting the licensing of oil and natural gas exploration in the country. This includes both onshore and offshore exploration. International oil companies (IOCs) involved in South Africa’s upstream oil sector include Anschutz International, BHP Billiton, Forest Oil International, and Pioneer Natural Resources.

  • Oil production: 229,900 bbl/day (2004 est.)
  • Oil proved reserves: 7.84 million bbl (1 January 2002)
  • Natural gas production: 2.23 million cu m (2004 est.)
  • Natural gas proved reserves: 28.32 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
  • PetroSA (State-owned) is involved in exploration and production in South Africa, as well as Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Sudan. PetroSA has made several discoveries on block 9, Bredasdorp Basin, including the Oribi, Oryx and Sable fields. PetroSA and Energy Africa began producing oil in 1997 at the Oribi field, which was followed by the Oryx and Sable fields in 2000 and 2003, respectively. PetroSA and Pioneer developed Sable under a joint partnership. The field has six subsea wells connected to a floating, production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) with the capacity to process 60,000 bbl/d of oil, re-inject 80 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas and recover natural gas liquids (NGLs). In 2003, the fields produced 58,000 bbl/d of crude oil total; however, due to steady declines, the fields currently produce around 30,000 bbl/d of crude.
  • In 2007, South Africa will auction four offshore blocks for exploration. In addition, BHP-Billiton plans to drill for oil in offshore acreage in western South Africa. BHP Billiton, which holds rights to two oil and gas exploration blocks off South Africa's West Coast, has reached an impasse with the government over the conversion of its exploration leases to new order mining rights, Business Report said.
    A key obstacle was understood to relate to the Department of Minerals and Energy's insistence that local courts arbitrate in disputes. Many oil-producing countries allow the International Court of Arbitration, a division of the International Chamber of Commerce, to resolve commercial disputes.
    The government has also blocked stabilisation provisions that would protect BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining group, from any future changes in the law.

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