Even as the crow flies Ghana is a long way from Ireland. With its successes offshore Ghana at the Jubilee and TEN fields, it could be said that it was a productive migration for Tullow Oil and its partners. The E&P independent founded in Tullow, Ireland, with headquarters in London is looking to extend its success farther south to Namibia.

The country shares its borders with Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and a most unforgiving neighbor in the form of the Atlantic Ocean setting the country’s 1,572-km-long (977-mile-long) western edge. With the northern portion of its coastline being widely known as the Skeleton Coast due to its abundance of desert sand, bleached bones of whales, wrecked ships and more, Namibia is a striking contrast to its former geologic neighbor, Brazil.

Offshore Namibia is part of the plate tectonic conjugate of offshore Brazil and lies on the West African continental margin adjacent to Angola, according to Pancontinental Oil & Gas N.L. It is the company’s opinion that the underexplored area has the potential to hold very large oil and gas reserves, per its website.

Considering the significant success of Brazil and Angola, exploration successes offshore Namibia have been few in number. The most recent occurred in 2013 with the recovery of a disappointing 1.8 liters of light oil from poorly developed reservoir rocks at the Wingat-1 well in the petroleum exploration license (PEL) 23 located south of PEL 37, according to Pancontinental. However, the company did note the importance of the recovery as having verified the presence of a working oil system in the Walvis Basin.

In the five years since that discovery, several companies, including Shell, ONGC Videsh and Total, have farmed into positions in the blocks surrounding the find. In February Exxon Mobil acquired a 40% participating interest from Galp Energia in PEL 82.

As the operator of PEL 37, Tullow Namibia Ltd. contracted Ocean Rig for the sixth-generation deepwater drillship Poseidon to conduct operations in PEL 37 at its Cormorant prospect in a water depth of about 550 m (1,804 ft), according to a press release from Africa Energy in March. The prospect is one in a series of extensive base-ofslope turbidite fan prospects with significant combined resource potential, the release noted.

“Exxon Mobil’s recent entry into a block adjoining PEL 37 confirms our positive view of the geology in this region,” said Jan Maier, Africa Energy’s vice president of exploration, in the press release.

Partners in the PEL 37 joint venture include Tullow Namibia Ltd., ONGC Videsh Vankorneft Pte Ltd. and Paragon Oil and Gas. Africa Energy has an interest in the license through its share in a subsidiary of Pancontinental Oil & Gas N.L.

Time will soon tell if the flight from the Emerald Isle to Skeleton Coast may be one best suited for a seabird like the cormorant rather than a crow.

Jennifer Presley’s Drilling Technologies column originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of E&P.