Excitement is mounting in Zimbabwe about a wildcat that Invictus Energy is set to drill in 2022 on a huge prospect over which 2D seismic data has just been shot with “encouraging” results.

Australia-listed Invictus has an 80% stake in a licence in northern Zimbabwe’s Cabora Bassa basin that hosts the 8.2 trillion cubic foot Mzarabani structure, one of the largest undrilled prospects mapped onshore Africa.

To better pinpoint a drilling location on the giant prospect, the operator decided to undertake a significant 839-line kilometre high-resolution 2D seismic survey.

Carried out by Canada’s Polaris – a company with a pedigree in remote seismic operations – the survey covered about 402 kilometres in the SG 4571 licence that hosts Mzarabani, with a further 437 kilometres acquired in an existing application area.

Invictus managing director Scott Macmillan said seismic data processing and interpretation is ongoing and, once completed, “will enable us to identify and mature additional prospects and leads".

He said that better imaging over the giant Mzarabani structure “is very encouraging and once the interpretation of the full dataset is completed, we expect to refine the location for the basin opening Mzarabani-1 well, which is scheduled to be drilled in the first half of 2022".

The rig selection process is advancing and the company is in discussions with shortlisted rig providers as well as drilling services providers.

Macmillan added that “the quality of the high-resolution seismic data we have acquired is excellent and providing great insights into the petroleum potential of the basin".

As well as Mzarabani, SG 4571 hosts the smaller Msasa prospect, both of which could also house condensate resources in addition to gas.

The survey significantly exceeded Invictus’ minimum work obligation of 300 kilometres of 2D seismic data for the current licence period, which runs to June 2024.

The last geophones were retrieved on 2 November and final data harvesting will be completed in the coming days, said the operator, while demobilisation of equipment and personnel has started and is set to be completed in the next week.

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Invictus said the seismic operation was carried out with no lost time injuries and generated nearly 200 direct jobs during the campaign and saw goods and services procured from local suppliers.

The operator added that it also implemented a student and lecturer attachment programme from local universities to develop and transfer skills in the oil and gas industry.