Two and a half decades ago, Nick Steinsberger invented what is now the modern-day frack in the Barnett shale. Now, the petroleum engineer extraordinaire is tasked with proving up untold billions of barrels of oil in Namibia’s Kavango Basin in what could very well be the world’s last-ever discovery of a massive onshore sedimentary basin.
I read a fascinating article about you in the Atlantic where they described what they called an “accidental discovery that revolutionized American energy” back in 1997 when you were supervising the completion of a well in Texas.
That discovery completely changed the future of fracking. That makes you pretty much the Father of Fracking, and now you’re considered to be a world leader in well completions from Eagle Ford and Wolfcamp to Marcellus and the drilling of some 1500 wells across North America.
So, we’re very excited to see what one of the men who made the American shale boom happen is about to do in Namibia–the next contender for a very polluting shale boom.
That fracking discovery that took place in 1997 was when he was with Mitchell Energy, in charge of completion for the Barnett Shale.
I am honored to have been responsible for completing the first 25 horizontal shale wells ever drilled in this shale patch. This is indeed where modern-day fracking began. Now, I’m hoping for something just as exciting in Namibia’s Kavango Basin.
I could have gone pretty much anywhere, but we all want something big. The next big find. And they don’t happen very often these days–at least not onshore. We’re looking for the next American shale boom, and Africa’s got the most potential.
Drilling hasn’t started yet, but will in November. But what got me was the geomagnetic survey of Recon’s license area, confirming depths of up to 30,000 feet under optimal source rock conditions.
So, you’d clearly have to hypothesize that this is going to be pretty good source rock. The Permian basin in Texas is the same type of sedimentary basin with a huge amount of Permian shale in it.
Again, it’s the depth that is so alluring here and that’s what the geomagnetic survey shows. And there is work that has been done to the west of Kavango and it’s the same kind of basin. That’s the Owambo Basin.
It’s still early, but we KNOW it’s a Permian basin, so it can be compared to the West Texas plays. Right off the starting blocks, that’s a brilliant thing to know.
Just think of all the conventional plays that unfolded in West Texas over the past 50 years–not even to mention the unconventional that changed the American energy picture completely.
The Permian produces nearly 5 million barrels per day. I don’t know if it will be that big on the world-class scale because it’s too early and the drill campaign gets off the ground in November.
But I will say this: It’s the same setting, the same geological time frame, and looks like the same type of thickness. The Permian section of Kavango will be 6,000-8,000 feet in depth, which is the same as the Permian in Texas.
We will be taking the rig and equipment to drill these wells and we will leave the rig over there. The first well will be 12,000 feet in depth and will take 30-40 days. The second one will be 13-14,000 feet deep, which is about the deepest well this rig can do.
Namibia only became independent in 1990, and the Kavango basin itself was only just discovered recently. Recon bought the entire thing up the minute it was discovered. So these countries are only just starting to explore.
The government in Namibia and the laws around hydrocarbons are all relatively new, yet it’s one of the friendliest regimes for explorers. Other companies looking towards new oil frontiers for big returns.
Shell is a veteran in Africa’s oil and gas game. The Dutch oil giant began drilling in the region over 70 years ago, and now has energy assets in over 20 countries across the continent. Though it has sold off a number of its prized plays in the region in recent years, it continues to maintain a strong presence, especially in South Africa.
Exxon is another company looking to cash in on the next major oil boom. It recently acquired additional 7 million net acres in Namibia from the government for a block about 135 miles offshore in water depths up to 13,000 feet, with exploration activities to begin by the end of this year.
Exxon’s big bet on Namibia is based on the fact that it consists of the same geology as Brazil’s pre-salt oil basins, Santos and Campos, which have already proved enormously resource-rich, according to Deloitte.
Rockefeller’s Chevron is also betting big on Africa, particularly Nigeria and Angola. The supermajor ranks among the top oil producers in the two African nations.
Other areas on the continent where the company holds interests include Benin, Ghana, the Republic of Congo and Togo. Chevron also holds a 36.7% interest in the West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited, which supplies Nigerian natural gas to customers in the region.
French Total is another oil giant betting big on the region’s potential. The company has been in the region for over 90 years, and it is showing no sign of reducing its footprint anytime soon. In fact, just recently, the company announced a major oil discovery offshore Suriname.
Oil Price.com / ABC Flash Point Oil & Gas News 2020.