French energy major TotalEnergies is planning to explore for oil offshore South Africa’s West Coast, reported Bloomberg News.

The move comes despite several environmental groups opposing exploration activities in the area on the ground of environmental concerns.

TotalEnergies is planning to initially drill one exploration well. Based on the success of this well, the firm could undertake the drilling of an additional nine wells, reported the news agency, citing SLR Consulting, which is carrying out the environmental assessment.

The exploration work is planned to be carried out in the deep-water Orange basin, located offshore between Port Nolloth and Hondeklip Bay, in water depths of as much as 3,000m.

TotalEnergies E&P Namibia, a unit of TotalEnergies, recently selected SLR to carry out the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment process to undertake exploration and appraisal well drilling in Block 2912 off the southern coast of Namibia. 

Following exploration activities in a 5,206km area of interest in Block 2912, TotalEnergies plans to drill up to ten exploration and/or appraisal wells, vertical seismic profiling, well testing, abandonment of wellheads, sonar bathymetry surveys, and seafloor sampling and coring surveys.

Earlier this year, the South African court banned offshore oil and gas exploration by Shell along the ecologically sensitive Wild Coast region in the Eastern Cape province, citing concerns over impact on marine life.

The ruling was made by Makhanda high court Judge President Mbenenge, who in December 2021 issued an interim order prohibiting further activities by Shell in the area.

The case was filed by Sustaining the Wild Coast NPC, Wild Coast communities, Wild Coast small-scale fishers, and All Rise Attorneys for Climate and the Environment NPC.