Australia’s Invictus Energy has made a gas discovery in northern Zimbabwe, following drilling of the Mukuyu-2 well at the Cabora Bassa project.

The discovers comes almost three decades after ExxonMobil abandoned its oil and gas exploration work in the region.

The company said four samples from the Mukuyu-2 well showed the gas presence.

Invictus managing director Scott Macmillan said the gas discovery was made at the Mukuyu-2 sidetrack well in the Upper Angwa formation.

Located 6.8km to the north-east of the Mukuyu-1 well, the Mukuyu-2 well has been drilled using the Exalo Rig 202.

Macmillan added: “The discovery represents one of the most significant developments in the onshore southern Africa oil and gas industry for decades.

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“The company has delivered an exceptional result from the first two wells drilled in Mukuyu, which provides us with significant running room in our large portfolio of prospects and leads for further discoveries in our acreage in the Cabora Bassa basin.

“The Mukuyu-2 discovery, 7km away and 450 metres updip of the Mukuyu-1 well, which can subsequently be classified as a discovery, provides confirmation of the large potential of the Mukuyu field, which has a structural closure of over 200km².”

Invictus is planning to complete the drilling and evaluation programme and gather further wireline data to ascertain additional discovery from the Lower Angwa formation.

Exxon abandoned its plan for exploration work in Zimbabwe in the 1990s after concluding that any discoveries were more likely to hold gas than oil.

Invictus owns an 80% stake in the Cabora Bassa Project located in the Cabora Bassa basin, which comprises one of the last underexplored frontier African Rift basins.

Earlier this year, Reuters reported that Invictus was looking to sell a stake in an oil and gas project in Zimbabwe.