The Ibhubesi gas field is located on Block 2A in the Orange Basin of South Africa. Image: courtesy of Sunbird Energy.
Production testing of the A-K2 well was conducted at the field in 2000. Image: courtesy of Sunbird Energy.
The Ibhubesi gas project will supply gas to Eskom’s 1,300MW Ankerlig power station in Atlantis. Image: courtesy of Sunbird Energy.

Located 105km off the coast of Northern Cape Province in Block 2A within the Orange Basin, the Ibhubesi gas field is considered South Africa’s biggest undeveloped gas field. The offshore field is expected to begin production in late-2017, with an initial flow rate of 100 million standard cubic feet of gas per day.

The Ibhubesi Gas Project (IGP), currently estimated to cost up to $4bn, is jointly owned by Sunbird Energy (76%) and South Africa’s national oil company PetroSA (24%). Sunbird Energy, the operator of the project, received governmental approval to acquire the production right on Block 2A in October 2013.

The preliminary Field Development Plan (FDP), the Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) studies, and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval for the project are expected to be completed by the end of 2014. The Final Investment Decision (FID) on the project is expected to be made by early 2015.

Ibhubesi gas field geology and reserves

Ibhubesi is estimated to contain proven and probable recoverable reserves of about 540 billion cubic feet of gas and 4.3 million barrels of condensate. The gas field comprises channel sand deposits with the reservoir depth ranging between 3,000m and 3,500m.

Discovery and development details of Ibhubesi

The Ibhubesi gas field discovered in 1981 is planned to be developed in four phases. The offshore gas project will involve drilling of 99 wells and construction of three tension leg platforms (TLPs).

Phase 1 development of the field, estimated to cost between $1.2bn and $1.4bn, will include drilling and construction of four or five vertical production wells tied back to a central Tension Leg Platform (TLP), and installation of pipelines, as well as support subsea infrastructure including horizontal subsea wellheads, 4in flow lines, umbilicals, an eight slot gas gathering manifold and production risers. The second phase of development will include the drilling of five more production wells tied back to the existing facilities.

Ibhubesi is anticipated to produce about 28.3 billion cubic feet of gas annually over its estimated field life of 20 years.

Gas processing and transport from Orange Basin gas project

“The gas output from the field will be transported to the shore through a 400km long and 14in diameter subsea pipeline.”

The gas produced from the wells will be processed on the TLPs. Separators at the platforms will separate condensate from the gas, which will be stored at the facility and transported later by tankers.

Gas will pass through a water removal facility and be compressed before transportation to the shore. Part of the gas will be used as fuel for power generation at the platform.

The gas output from the field will be transported to the shore through a 400km long and 14in diameter subsea pipeline. An onshore gas receiving facility will be also constructed to reduce gas pressure in the pipeline and measure the flow-rate before exporting gas to the market.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Sunbird Energy and Eskom in December 2013, enabling Eskom to use produced gas from the field at its 1,300MW Ankerlig power station in Atlantis. The power plant will receive gas through an onshore pipeline.

Contractors involved with the Ibhubesi gas project

RPS Energy UK performed the technical assessment study for the project in April 2013. MHA Petroleum Consultants (MHA) was engaged to perform the reserve and resource estimates.

Environmental pre-scoping assessment is being conducted by CCA Environmental (CCA). Standard Bank will review the gas marketing scenarios, energy pricing options and economic viability of the project.

Wood Group Kenny was awarded a contract in September 2013 to provide engineering design and project management services for the Ibhubesi gas project.

NRI Energy Technology