As the only major oil producer in East Africa, South Sudan has prioritized exploration in 2022 and beyond with the aim of bringing new supplies online that will help meet regional demand for oil and gas. In line with this objective, the opening panel discussion during day two of South Sudan Oil & Power 2022 explored the country’s exploration prospects.
Moderated by Akol Dok, Managing Partner, Orus Consulting, speakers included Dr. Omar Abu-Elbashar, Managing Director, Petro-Tec; KB Trivedi, Technical Director and Chief Geologist, SFF.
Eng. Majak Arop Wunrok, President, Nile Drilling; Charles Dekori, Country Manager, Schlumberger South Sudan; and Michael Alier Deng, Chairman, South Sudan Petroleum Engineers and Geologists were also part of the panel.
Speaking on the role data provision plays in driving new exploration, Dr. Abu-Elbashar stated that, “Any international company interested in blocks can approach us and get access to data and evaluate it. This is the protocol and we have already managed to get 74 companies interested in the data for South Sudan and we currently have several companies bidding for the blocks,” adding that, “The most important thing to do is adopt a strategy for the oil and gas industry in South Sudan. You need to have international oil companies come and produce oil. In that regard, we have to promote South Sudan competitively. You therefore have to consider fiscal and legal terms to attract companies.”
South Sudan has produced oil for a number of years, and the success of the sector is largely attributed to the role both local and international companies have played.
“Nile drilling was established to provide drilling and integrated services to the Joint Operating Companies in South Sudan. Nile Drilling managed to acquire and purchase two drill rigs. We have a long way to go to acquire more service rigs because this industry has huge opportunities. Nile Drilling has managed to do successful operations and our performance is great. This would not happen without our reliable and technical workforce and engineers. 95% of our workforce are South Sudanese with 5% of expats from Sudan. So, operations are being run by South Sudanese,” stated Wunrok.
Meanwhile, despite production success, much of the country’s resources remain untapped. As such, the government has prioritized exploration with the aim of improving energy security and independence.
“When any investor comes to a country, the first thing is the return on investment, the second is security of investment and the third is trust. So far, there is no doubt about that here. You can go to the Minister at any time and talk to them. It is so transparent and such a vibrant system here. We are so happy to work with South Sudan and we are certainty looking forward and ahead to do something more,” stated Trivedi.
Speaking on the need to drive new exploration to capitalize on untapped reserves, Dekori stated that, “In exploration, there is a lot that has happened in the last twenty years. For us, any challenging industry is an opportunity to develop technology to drive that industry. There is a lot happening in terms of acquisition, seismic processing and surveying. You can find oil with an old way in an old area, or a new area, but you will never be able to use an old way of looking for oil in the current situation we are in. you need to be complicated in your approach when you are looking for oil. Explorers must take advantage of technologies because they are the best technologies that have come in.”
Finally, Deng emphasizes that the country is open and ready to welcome investors, adding that, “The notion that South Sudan does not have any technicians or engineers that can do the jobs is not accurate. We have 87% of locals working in the industry, most of which are technical. Let us be assured that we have people who are capable of developing and running your projects. Come and invest in South Sudan and employ the local workforce. There is no better time than now to invest in South Sudan. There is peace and stability. Seize this opportunity and invest. Let us develop our resources.”