One of the most important discoveries of the year took place 1785km off the southern coast of South Africa where Total has made a gas condensate discovery on the Brulpadda prospects, located on Block 11B/12B in the Outeniqua Basin.
The exploration well encountered 57 metres of net gas condensate play in Lower Cretaceous reservoirs. Following the success of the main objective, the well was deepened to a final depth of 3,633 metres and has also been successful in the Brulpadda-deep prospect.
Speaking at Africa Oil Week last week (Africa-OilWeek.com), Dr Enzo Insalaco, Vice President Exploration Africa at Total explained that South Africa has become an interesting area for exploration. “When you look at the fundamentals, you can see a scenario where there are a number of significant, relatively underexplored basins and many of the play fundamentals are present in these places,” he says. “We see that there's a lot of scope for exploration and significant potential.”
That interest has been illustrated by the recent activity by the industry, which has seen a significant amount of seismic capture and blocks being taken in Namibia and South Africa. “Much of that activity is early stage, so 2D or 3D,” Insalaco added. “What we will see in the next few years is an uptick in reservoir drilling and exploration.
We have a strong position in the oil basin, so we have a couple of blocks in the Orange Basin and in South Africa the 11B/12B block where this discovery was made.”
Opening a new petroleum basin
For Total, Brulpadda was certainly a high impact well for opening up what they believe is a significant petroleum basin. “It was a very bold technical well,” Insalaco continued. “Many people may not realise that the well was actually drilled on 2D. It is a deep offshore well, so drilling on 2D was a very bold move. But given our understanding of the basin and the innovations we did on the operations, this well could be drilled safely and successfully on 2D.
“As we know, it was an operational success just as much as a technical success; we drilled the well within budget, within time and in terms of NPT we have about 3% of NPT and 3% waiting on weather. If you consider the conditions, that is fantastic operational performance. We drilled the well to the main reservoir log and then we went down to a deeper reservoir.
“We did extensive logging records, took samples of fluid, reservoir and source rock. It was a fantastic result in terms of operational performance and data acquisition. It is a gas and condensate and oil discovery, both traces were found. The reservoirs were well developed with good fluid and reservoir properties. You could not really wish for more information from an exploration well. That data acquisition has really put us in a great position going forward to be able to accelerate the next level and the evaluation.”
A fast track to production
The fact that Total drilled the prospect on basic 2D seismic data meant that they needed to hit the ground running in the discovery scenario. They planned for success and were ready to shoot the 3D campaign as soon as they were comfortable that the well was successful and there was going to be potential on the basin. “We were ready for 3D, we were already negotiating contracts on the way,” Insalaco added. “When you look at the milestones on the well you can see that we finished our P&A in the first week of February.
The rig moved offsite the middle of February, and the first 3D seismic shot was done on the 14th of March. A month between the first shot of seismic and the end of the work which is a fantastic performance.
“We also fast tracked the seismic acquisition, so we could start looking at the potential on the new data by June of this year and that allows us, together with the information that we collected, to fast track well evaluation and put us into position to commission the rig and be able to drill early next year. Doing as many processes in parallel allowed us to save 18 months to two years in the well programme and I don't think we can compress that timeline anymore, given the operational constraints and the operational windows for the seismic acquisition.”
With the initial phase of the 3D seismic acquisition programme over the basin completed, the Brulpadda well results will be integrated with the 3D seismic data ahead of the drilling programme in 2020, which will include up to three exploration wells.
Last month marked ten years since Mohammed Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram, died in police detention. His death led to the radicalisation of the sect and a declaration of Jihad against the Nigerian state.
In an earlier paper on the sect I argued that before 2009, its operations were more or less peaceful, but that it was radicalised in 2009 after a confrontation with Nigerian security agencies. The police cracked down on the group setting off an armed uprising in Bauchi State, Northern Nigeria.
Opinions differ on the reasons for the government clampdown. But some believe that the government intervened based on intelligence that the group was arming itself.
The crackdown led to an uprising that soon spread to other parts of northeastern Nigeria and 800 members of the group were killed by the Nigerian security services. Yusuf was arrested during this period but died in police detention. The police claimed that he died while trying to escape.
Yusuf’s successor, Abubakar Shekau, vowed to exact revenge on the Nigerian government. A violent campaign against the state was launched. A year later in 2010, Shekau sought to make it a Jihad against Christians.
In a message he reportedly broadcast over the Internet in July 2010, Shekau was reported as saying:
This is a message to President Goodluck Jonathan and all who represent the Christians. We are declaring a holy war! We will fight the Christians, because everyone knows what they have done to the Muslims!
It is now estimated that by 2018 Boko Haram had been linked to the deaths of over 37,000 people.
The United Nations Children’s Fund has reported that the group has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in northeastern Nigeria since 2013 to spread fear and show power. Similarly, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre believes that over two million people have been displaced in the North East as a result of Boko Haram’s terror activities.
Boko Haram has survived thanks to its ability to reinvent itself, change tactics, and adopt different strategies. Going forward, conventional military solutions will not work on their own. Other interventions, such as de-radicalisation and rehabilitation are necessary.
Fighting the sect
The government of Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015) adopted measures to combat the group including declaring a state of emergency in the three most affected Northern states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa. It also initiated a four-nation regional force that included Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
These measures had varying degrees of success. They would appear to work initially because Boko Haram would lay low for a while, only for it to adopt a different terror strategy.
The Jonathan government even suggested amnesty but Shekau reportedly mocked the offer, saying:
Surprisingly the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon.
Before he issued this audio statement the military had claimed to have killed him.
Some of the factors that affected the fight against Boko Haram, especially under the Jonathan government, were pervasive conspiracy theories that played on the country’s fault lines of religion, ethnicity and regionalism.
For instance many supporters of Jonathan, a Christian from southern Nigeria, believed that Boko Haram was created by the Northern political class to undermine Jonathan’s government.
In the same vein, according to many Muslims in the North, the Jonathan government was either fighting the group halfheartedly, or propping it up in order to depopulate the North ahead of the 2015 election.
The conspiracy theories probably played a role in the Jonathan administration’s lethargic handling of the kidnapping of 276 girls from a Chibok boarding school in April 2014.
What was obvious was that Boko Haram had become a menace. By the beginning of 2015, the group reportedly controlled about 20 local government areas, a territory the size of Belgium.
In 2015, when Muhammadu Buhari, a Northern Fulani Muslim and retired Army General, defeated Jonathan in the election, he gave Nigerian military chiefs three months to defeat Boko Haram. This was probably based on a wrong assumption that fighting terrorism was just like conventional warfare.
In December of that year, his government claimed it had recovered all territories previously held by Boko Haram, saying it had “technically defeated” the group. However, there has recently been an upsurge in the sect’s activities. It is now armed with better weapons and controls four of ten zones in northern Borno state near Lake Chad.
What seems obvious is that Boko Haram has shown the capacity to reinvent itself: it has evolved from being a group fighting the Nigerian state, to targeting Christians, attacking Muslims it regards as infidels and collaborators, and now, taking the fight to the military.
For instance, in December 2018, it sacked two military bases – a naval base and a multinational joint task force post – in the fishing town of Baga after a fierce battle.
The group claims that its ultimate aim is to establish a caliphate where it can rule according to its version of Islamic law.
Meanwhile, the Buhari government continues to live in denial, maintaining its posture that it has “technically defeated” the group.
Boko Haram today
Over the years, different factions have emerged. One of the earliest splinter groups was Ansaru, which emerged in 2012 after Boko Haram attacked Kano city killing about 185 civilians, most of them Muslims.
Today, Boko Haram is believed to be made up of at least two main factions, one led by Shekau and the other, known as the Islamic State West Africa Province, led by Abu Abdullah Ibn Umar al-Barnawi who is said to be one of the sons of Boko Haram founder Mohamed Yusuf. However, there appears to be two people with the same name or aliases, one of whom is not linked to Yusuf.
It is obvious that given the nature of Boko Haram, military solutions will not work on their own. A robust programme of amnesty, de-radicalisation and rehabilitation will have to go hand-in-hand with counterinsurgency and military solutions. All told, it will not be an easy victory for the Nigerian government.
Family businesses are rarely viewed as a sector which could influence economic growth, but the Africa Investment Forum is recognising them as important players on the continent.
For the first time at a conference of this nature, families running business empires have been given a platform to share their views on how Africa’s unexplored wealth can benefit all who live here.
The Elnefeidi Group, a family-owned business with more than 80 years of experience in various industries, is run by second and third generation members. It is one of the businesses that believes start-ups can help turn around the continent’s economies if they are supported and nurtured.
“We need to take care of the youth, having money is not enough. Start-ups should be helped with business plans, helped to structure their business model and to position their businesses where there are opportunities,” said Hana Elnefeidi, the company’s representative at the Africa Investment Forum.
Elnefeidi, with businesses including agriculture, automotive, mining and real estate, located in several countries across the continent, believes families should not just share their money with start-up companies, but also their networks, knowledge and expertise.
“We need to take care of the youth, having money is not enough. Start-ups should be helped with business plans, helped to structure their business model and to position their businesses where there are opportunities,” said Hana Elnefeidim, the company’s representative at the Africa Investment Forum.
Foreign Direct Investment flows to Africa rose by 11% to $46 billion in the past year, and several factors, including the realization of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) could boost this further. The past decade has seen African family-owned companies grow quickly.
Different management strategies have been highly successful in Latin America and the Middle East, where family businesses comprise about 70% of the top 100. Family businesses in Africa represent only 20% of the top 100.
The family business session focused on how to build alliances and partnerships in Africa and the Middle East, which could play an important role in stimulating investment in the continent. Family businesses by nature often build lasting relationships, valuable in any investment climate.
Essa Abdulla Al Ghurair is Chairman of Essa Al Ghurair Investment, a family-owned business involved in manufacturing, commodities and trading on international markets. He says that global collaboration in infrastructure development could help grow small- and medium-sized businesses, which will in turn reduce Africa’s high levels of youth unemployment.
Al Ghurair, whose family is a major supplier of agricultural commodities in Dubai, says the United Arab Emirates is small, but has become a hub for international business, “Dubai has a very small population compared to South Africa. There is prosperity for people living there, there are work opportunities which benefit people from all over the world, including South Africa. This is mainly because of visionary collaboration across many business spectrums and countries.”