Invictus gets EIA plan approval, on course for 2020 well drilling

Invictus Zimbabwe
Invictus MD Scott Macmillan

Invictus Energy, the Australian-listed form prospecting for gas and oil in Zimbabwe, is to begin an environmental impact assessment ahead of the planned drilling of an exploratory well at Muzarabani.

The Zimbabwe Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has approved the company’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prospectus lodged by its 80% owned subsidiary Geo Associates.

“The approval of the EIA prospectus enables the company to carry out the full EIA assessment including field surveys, baseline studies and consultation of the key project stakeholders, local leaders, relevant government ministries and government extension offices,” Invictus said Friday.

The Scientific & Industrial Research & Development Centre (SIRDC) is to carry out the EIA study. Invictus is also consulting local and traditional leaders from the Muzarabani and Mbire areas, with the last meeting having been held at Centenary last Friday.

Invictus Managing Director Scott Macmillan said: “The Environmental Impact Assessment study is an important undertaking to ensure that we adequately and identify and effectively mitigate any anticipated impacts associated with the exploration program and the development of any discoveries made. The completion and approval of the EIA study will fulfil the environmental approvals required for future exploration drilling and development of any resources by the regulator EMA. We will consult closely with the local community and stakeholders and develop and Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan which will ensure that the mitigation measures are adhered to during the project.”

So far, independent surveys have pointed to “substantial resource potential” at Invticus’ Cabora Bassa prospect. The last estimate, released by the Getech Group on July 1, showed potential gas resources of 9.25tcf (trillion cubic feet), which would make the prospect one of the largest in the region.

However, this remains only potential, and must be confirmed by the drilling of an oil well to confirm the find. Once the EIA is done, Invictus will spend up to US$20 million to sink a well. One Gas Resources, the exploration partner of Invictus, expects drilling to begin in the second half of next year.

At a press conference in Harare on Thursday, Mines Minister Winston Chitando said the company would float the regulatory notice for an EIA shortly, leading to preliminary seismic work next year to prepare for drilling.  The first well will do to a depth of up to four kilometres to define the resource.

“Invictus have now reached a stage where they are now preparing to do a seismic survey in the first quarter of 2020, which will enable them to assist in the exact location of the borehole to be drilled,” said Chitando.

Oil and gas projects take long to develop. Mozambique’s US$25 billion gas find, one of the largest in history, will only start production in 2024, a total of 13 years after the resource was confirmed in 2011, and following surveys done in the late 1990s.

This year, Invictus hired UK firm ENVOI to run its farm out process, where it seeks partners for drilling and development.

In May, Sable Chemicals and Invictus signed an MoU that could see the supply of natural gas to Zimbabwe’s sole ammonium nitrate producer, should a commercial gas discovery be confirmed.