by Daniel O'Sullivan, London, EI
Hopes for a first LNG scheme in East Africa have risen following a third gas strike offshore Tanzania by Ophir Energy and BG Group. The discovery adds further weight to the idea that the three blocks the two partners share there will form the basis for a new Asian-facing LNG export project, which despite a lack of hard volumetric figures is already being talked up by Ophir as a “multi-train” venture. The pricing and marketing prospects for new supplies of LNG improved overnight with the earthquake and tsunami that knocked out a significant chunk of Japanese nuclear power generating capacity in early March. Privately held Ophir -- which ranks Mittal Holdings, South African black empowerment vehicle Mvelaphanda, hedge fund Och-Ziff and Polish industrial group Kulczyk as its major owners, accounting for 70% between them -- is riding this momentum, with reports saying it is now preparing to float 25% of the company in a stock market listing to raise some $500 million.
(Ophir announced on April 4 it has made a third Tanzanian gas discovery with the Chaza-1 well, located in Block 1 about 11 miles (18 kilometers) offshore southern Tanzania in a water depth of about 3,117 feet (950 meters). Drilled by the Deepsea Stavanger semisub, the discovery is situated nearly 124 miles (200 kilometers) south of the Pweza and Chewa discoveries---please see Rigzone, here---and closer to the Mozambique border where Anadarko Petroleum has made four gas discoveries. An estimated 40 miles separates Chaza-1 from Windjammer, the Anadarko group’s northernmost discovery to date in Offshore Area 1. Also, for East Africa's oil and gas, please see my post here. -- D.R.)