Canada-based junior ReconAfrica has spudded its debut wildcat onshore Namibia, targeting a prospect that could hold 800 million barrels of oil in place and what is the first of a four-well exploration campaign in this frontier region.

The Toronto and Frankfurt-listed player operates a swathe of acreage in northeast Namibia over which it has acquired reams of 2D seismic data in the past few years and in which it has also drilled a couple of stratigraphic wells.

As a result of all these operations, ReconAfrica — working with its state-owned partner Namcor — identified a new basin called Kavango, which it believes is a prospective for hydrocarbons.

The company said last week that the 8-2 probe was likely to spud on 24 or 25 June, with the drilling rig ReconAfrica’s Jarvie-1 on location, later confirming that drilling began on 25 June.

The well is to be drilled to a planned depth of 2800 metres and is designed to test potential conventional oil and natural gas reservoirs in sandstone, part of the company’s primary Karoo Rift Fill play.

The well will also be drilled deeper into the Pre-Karoo Mulden and Otavi formations, the same intervals in which ReconAfrica’s 6-2 stratigraphic well — located 6.5 kilometres to the east — intercepted oil and gas shows.

It is anticipated the exploration well will reach its total depth within 60 days of starting.

After this probe has been completed, the rig will drill three back-to-back probes, aiming for seismically defined structures to further test the Karoo Rift Fill play as well as the Intra Rift Fault Block play.

Netherland Sewell & Associates, the company’s independent reserves evaluator, estimated 8-2 could hold 799 million barrels of oil in place, about 138 million barrels of which could be recoverable.

ReconAfrica has also wrapped up the second phase of a 2D seismic survey, covering 761 kilometres.

In total, the company now has a data library of 1211-kilometres of 2D seismic over its 34,000 square kilometre licensed area.

Planning is under way for the next 2D operation which is anticipated to comprise in excess of 1000 kilometres.

This campaign is due to start later this year with acquisition to begin this autumn.

* Article updated to reflect the fact the 8-2 well spudded on 25 June.