Invictus Energy: Exploring Zimbabwe’s Frontier Basins

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The African Energy Chamber (AEC) spoke with Scott Macmillan, Managing Director of Invictus Energy, ahead of the continent’s premier energy event, African Energy Week (AEW) 2022 , about the company’s operations on the continent, the challenges independent explorers are facing and the opportunities AEW 2022 provides for explorers such as Invictus.

What are Invictus Energy’s vision, mission and goals for 2022?

We are currently planning our maiden drilling campaign in the Cabora Bassa Basin in Zimbabwe which is estimated to commence in July. We will be drilling two exploration wells: Mukuyu-1 and an additional well which is being matured for drilling at present. Our goal is to conclude our drilling campaign safely and make a basin opening discovery.

Please provide insight into the company’s recent projects in Africa. How do these projects contribute to Invictus’ 2022 and overall oil and gas market agenda in Africa?

Our Cabora Bassa project in northern Zimbabwe is an exciting asset. It’s one of the last undrilled interior rift basins in Africa that has significant potential for finding hydrocarbons. Our Mukuyu prospect is world class and independently estimated to contain 8.2 trillion cubic feet and 247 million barrels of conventional gas-condensate. It is the largest undrilled prospect onshore Africa and will be one of the largest targets drilled globally in 2022.

Our vision is to become a regional energy supplier in southern Africa and success in our exploration campaign at one of the material prospects we are drilling will go a long way to fulfilling that goal and having a significant impact in the region. Energy independence and energy security are critical to helping end energy poverty in southern Africa.

What challenges are companies like Invictus Energy that are operating within Africa’s oil and gas market facing and how can they be addressed?

The challenges for us from an operational perspective are mainly around availability of service providers and the mobilization and logistics hurdles to move equipment to the project. We experienced this during our seismic campaign last year which we executed during the height of COVID-19. It is something that our team has had to be very involved in to ensure that our drilling campaign kicks off on schedule and within budget. We have managed to rapidly progress a very frontier project from acquisition in 2018 to shooting a large 840 km infill seismic campaign in the second half of 2021, and now preparing to drill two wells within six months of completing the seismic survey. We’re very fortunate that we have a very experienced and dedicated local team and a supportive government who have gone out of their way to assist us.

The other challenge is overcoming the perception that whilst Africa has great geological potential, the fiscal terms and above ground environment have made it a difficult place to do business. This is certainly true for some jurisdictions, but others have recognised this and amended their terms to attract investment back into their countries. We are now seeing the change in terms bear fruit in places such as Ivory Coast and Namibia with the recent material discoveries.

What are the top three key trends that will shape Africa’s oil and gas market in the next three to five years?

Firstly, African oil and gas is going to be in greater demand, particularly in Europe and Asia, because of the changing energy dynamics and desire to move away from dependence on Russia. This will help unlock stalled developments that have struggled to reach Final Investment Decision or secure anchor markets.

Secondly, fiscal competitiveness will determine whether Africa can capture further interest that will lead to exploration and development activity.

Thirdly, the increasing energy demands in Africa from a growing population as well as the industrialization of economies will require affordable and reliable sources of baseload power. Gas is going to play a hugely important role in that regard.

What are some of the opportunities companies like Invictus Energy can gain from participating at AEW 2022?

The AEW conference will provide a fantastic platform to network with other E&P companies and government delegates from around the continent and provide us with access to new opportunities and partnerships that you can really only get from a meeting face to face.

What are some of the topics that you will be discussing at AEW 2022 in Cape Town?

We will be discussing the results from our maiden drilling campaign as well as seeking new opportunities to grow our business beyond Zimbabwe.

*Source African Energy Week (AEW)