South Africa’s Major Gas Find or Should I Say “Total’s”

According to a Times live article published on the 7th of February titled “Total makes significant oil discovery at SA’s Outeniqua Basin”, the French oil and gas major Total stated that it had made a major gas find. The gas condensate discovery made in its Brulpadda prospects in the Outeniqua Basin offshore South Africa encompasses 57 meters of net gas condensate.

Brulpadda serves as an eagerly awaited explorative prospects for the year, total stated that the field holds between 500 million to 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Total holds 45 percent working interest and is the operator of the reservoir. Total is in partnership with Qatar Petroleum which has a 25 percent share, CNR International has a stake of 20 percent, and a South African Consortium named Main Street holds 10 percent.

Another article published on the 16th of February titled “What a major offshore gas find means for South Africa’s energy future” states that the discovery was made amidst rising fuel prices. The Brulpadda discovery holds condensates (a form of light crude oil) which can only be processed in PetroSA’s Mossel Bay refinery, indicating that a major reward will go to that refinery.

It takes years to develop a gas field that can produce gas, and a number of things can change within that period. It is also an expensive endeavour to compress natural gas for long-distance export and the country does not have well-developed infrastructure for the use of gas, so the supply may be beyond the demand for South Africa. To ensure that national interests are protected, the mineral and petroleum resources act amendment is set to be taken to parliament.

President Cyril Ramaphosa showed an ecstatic feeling towards this gas discovery which he showed how pleased he is when he outlined the development at his 2019 state of the nation address. A number of politicians, economists and journalists share the same sentiment as the president, calling it a possible game changer.

The most important question that many are not attesting to is what impact is this going to have on the lives of South Africans, we need to look beyond how it will improve the country’s GDP with imported oil and leaving the currency appreciating. How many black entrepreneurs are going to generate revenue from the value chain of this development? How will unemployment be reduced? Will the general fuel price in South Africa go down? And in turn lower food prices keeping a lid on inflation? Our inability to answer these questions does not inspire confidence in how we can build this nation with our God given resources. We already know the major benefactors as far as shareholding goes.

The early days of March 2019 saw fuel price hikes that are influenced by international oil suppliers, we need to turn around and say how ordinary citizens then prosper with this discovery. Dubai has oil reserves accounting for 500 million barrels and was able to improve its economy significantly so while owning their oil. Many are against the nationalisation of national resources but we need to study the impact of nationalising versus privatisation, where we look at the benefits not in terms of the few who keep getting richer but creating opportunities of wealth for even those at the bottom of the capitalistic jungle.

Qatar Petroleum (QP) is a state owned petroleum company of Qatar responsible for all gas and oil activities in Qatar, as well as exploration, this is according to the QP website. Qatar invested in leveraging its natural resource so much that it has a stake in the Mozambican oil reserves as well as the new find in South Africa yet we are fed the lie that nationalisation of resources does not work and people always look to Zimbabwe as a case study and seldom look Qatar or Dubai, taking into account that Qatar is the richest county in the world, having had optimally used their oil. It is perhaps time to look at new approaches to advancing our economy as the current approaches keep enriching the few.


Reuters. (2019, February 07). Total makes significant oil discovery at SA’s Outeniqua Basin. Retrieved from http//

Scholes, R. and Crompton, R. (2019, February 19). What a major offshore gas find means for South Africa’s energy future. Retrieved from http//

Qatar Petroleum: Committed to excellence. Retrieved from http//

Author: Kgositsile Mokhosi

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