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Zim hunt puts oil barons’ capacity to the test

“The better imaging over the giant Muzarabani structure is very encouraging and once the interpretation of the full dataset is completed, we expect to refine the location for the basin opening Muzarabani-1 well which is scheduled to be drilled in 1H 2022.”

THE Australian firm exploring for gas and petroleum resources in Zimbabwe’s Muzarabani district this week said the quality of data coming out of swathes of their claims in the Zambezi Valley had surpassed previous survey results provided by Mobil from its 1990s survey.

This marked the first good news by the Australian Stock Exchange-listed Invictus Energy.

Back in May, the firm indicated during the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe annual general meeting that it would be approaching the government for a greenlight to expand the area under exploration to about one million hectares.

The decision was being mulled after Invictus struggled to find promising data as it prepared to locate the right position for its first test well.

Drilling for the first test well has been deferred from the fourth quarter of 2021 to early next year. But with a positive cash balance report this week, and prospects for a US listing to consolidate its war chest, Invictus is bullish.

In a market update, Invictus gave a positive trajectory, saying its fine run on the operations front had been boosted by a stronger financial performance during the quarter ended September 30, 2021.

The firm is at the most expensive stage of its project where it has to convince the capital markets to inject funding at several intervals to advance exploration without generating income.

“This has been an excellent quarter for the company which has seen us advance our exploration programme with the commencement of the CB21 seismic survey campaign by Polaris, which has produced a step change in data quality compared to the previous Mobil survey acquired in 1990,” Invictus chief executive officer, Scott Macmillan said.

The seismic survey has since been completed, the firm said on Wednesday, noting that data analysis will be ongoing.

“The company also advanced its drilling plans for the first half of 2022 basin opening drilling programme with the completion of the tender for long lead items, well services, and rig selection. The company ended the quarter with a strong cash balance of US$7,3 million,” he said.

Macmillan and his team are leaving no stone unturned in preparing Invictus’ funding as the project advances, with the US listing strategically made to attract big funders.

“The company has an exciting and transformative period ahead as we work towards the 1H (first half of ) 2022 drilling campaign,” he said.

The Polaris Natural Resources deal was meant to help Invictus acquire a minimum of 400 kilometres of seismic data.

Subsequent to the end of the quarter, the company had acquired 467km of seismic data and commenced the restoration of completed lines.

It will process and interpret the new data in order to refine the Muzarabani-1 drilling location and well path and identify any additional prospectivity for the upcoming drilling.

“This very early stage data is already providing Invictus with improved seismic resolution, good fault definition and sharper delineation.

“The final seismic products will determine the optimum well locations for the high impact basin opening drilling campaign scheduled for 1H 2022,” it said.

During the quarter, the company also completed the tendering process for long lead drilling items (wellheads and casing) which is awaiting formal award.

Mcmillan said high resolution seismic data provided great insights into the petroleum potential of the basin.

“The better imaging over the giant Muzarabani structure is very encouraging and once the interpretation of the full dataset is completed, we expect to refine the location for the basin opening Muzarabani-1 well which is scheduled to be drilled in 1H 2022,” Mcmillan said.

The CB21 seismic survey generated about 200 direct jobs in the Muzarabani district, about 300 kilometres north-east of Harare.

The project has given local suppliers market opportunities as the procurement of goods and services was made through local suppliers in keeping with the company’s local content policy.

In Zimbabwe, the oil exploration programme has held authorities spellbound.

Should a gas or oil find be made, the southern African country is expected to benefit from revenue sharing with Invictus, under a deal that is said to be under consideration.

For now, it is not clear if Zimbabwe will have oil, or gas flowing out of the wells by the time the wells are drilled, but authorities have also been preparing for extensive development of the areas in close proximity to the oil fields, most of them battling to shake off poverty. Newsday

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