West Coast Gas Field drilling has started
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West Coast Gas Field drilling has started

Gas exploration company Forest Exploration International and its project partners plan to spend between $3-billion and $4-billion over the next 20 years to develop the Ibhubesi gas field, off South Africa’s West Coast.

The initial drilling programme into the gas field has been “highly successful”, producing a gas well that tested better than any other well drilled off the South African coast. However, the second phase of the $100-million drilling programme was less successful.

Forest Exploration International commercial director John Langhus told Engineering News Online that it had not yet defined a definitive resource estimate of the gas field. However, “we do consider it a world-class asset and a world-class discovery, and it is large enough to move ahead”.

Langhus stated that the company was awaiting a decision from the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) on whether production at the Ibhubesi gas field could go ahead. If the production right was received within the expected date, which was June this year, it was likely that production would start in 2012.

The gas from the project was most likely to be used for electricity production, and Langhus noted that although the company did not have any definitive offtake agreements in place, it was in advanced discussions with several parties.

“We are pretty confident that there is plenty of market here to be developed.”

Langhus told the Cape Town regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry that it planned to draw 100-million cubic feet of gas a day and that this was expected to rise to about 225-million cubic feet.

The initial supply would be enough to power a 700-MW combined-cycle gas turbine to supply base-load electricity or 400 MW of peaking power from an open-cycle gas turbine. These power stations would be able to compete with coal-fired power stations but would be cleaner and could be constructed in a shorter time.

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