Searching for oil and gas in the waters of the southwest African nation has been compared to the early days of the North Sea, where a number of wells were drilled before any significant discoveries were made. To date, there have been 15 exploratory wells drilled offshore, according to Namibia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy.
“Results from our exploration well are encouraging, establishing the presence of a working petroleum system with light oil. We’ll continue evaluating the data and conduct further exploration activity to determine the extent of the system and how much of the hydrocarbons can be recovered,” a Shell spokesperson said.
The discovery comes at a time when views on fossil fuels are becoming more polarized throughout the continent. While oil producers argue Africa has been a relatively small emitter of greenhouse gas, and that countries deserve to benefit from selling their natural resources, some environmental and community groups have taken action to block new developments.
TotalEnergies SE is also drilling a well nearby in Namibian waters. Exploration activity offshore Africa dropped to a single rig in 2020 as the global pandemic took hold. It’s partially recovered, though still around half of what it was before coronavirus spread, according to Baker Hughes data.
Shell has a 45% interest in Block 2913A, with Qatar Petroleum holding 45% and the National Petroleum Co. of Namibia with 10%.