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Red flags as Azinam announce offshore exploratory drilling: the Western Cape mining onslaught continues


Once again red flags are raised as another tick-box consultation is arranged at the 11th hour.

Azinam’s proposed offshore exploration well(the Gazania-1) drilling is to be conducted in relatively shallow water depths from 50 to 200 metres and is located offshore south of Kleinzee to the village of Kotzesrus. A 686km2 2013 3D seismic data confirmed prospectivity in the the Block 2B licence area. Block 2B is located in the Orange Basin and covers 3,062 km2 off the west coast of South Africa 300 kilometres north of Cape Town. Oil was discovered and tested on the block by Soekor in the A-J1 borehole drilled in 1988. 

Like the Shell/Impact Africa application off the Wild Coast, this Block2B right has changed hands a number of times – Thombo Petroleum Ltd was granted the right pre-2014. It was then sold on to Africa Energy who cut a deal with Azinam. Like the Shell/Impact Africa application it has the potential to raise many of the same issues regarding the unlawfulness of the Environmental Authorisation. Whether affected communities were made aware of these changes and properly consulted when the EIA and EMPR were undertaken is subject to dispute. We include the original EIA, EMP, the environmental audit report prepared for Block 2B/ Thombo by environmental assessor SLR here, as this is the only documentation trail available at time of writing:

Azinam’s drilling, planned for October this year (2022), adds to the cumulative effect of a dramatic increase in these last two years of applications for heavy mineral sands, gemstones, off-shore diamond mining, coffer dam as well as phosphates mining. This development pressure continues because no Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) or an Environmental Management Framework guides planning and decision-making for the West Coast, leaving the assessment of these combined impacts, and the problematic relationships between offshore oil and gas and climate change, waste, environmental degradation, pollution, and public health to interested and affected parties:- fisherfolk, coastal residents and environmental and social justice organisations. Any mining company who seeks to conduct exploration must consider the impact of these activities on the ecosystem as a whole including the applicant communities. Yet, once again, it is concerned South Africans who are left to face up to proponents of continued hydrocarbon exploitation, now accepted to be the prime cause of climate change.

Azinam South Africa Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Azinam Limited (est. 2012, headquartered in Bermuda and recently acquired by Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas who will be their underwriters for this project), owns a 50% operating interest in Block 2B, and retains a 27.5% participating interest, with joint venture partners Africa Energy Corp. Panoro Energy is a 12.5% participating interest holder on the licence and Crown Energy AB indirectly holds the remaining 10% participating interest. Managing Director of Azinam South Africa Limited, Daniel McKeown, declared that their Best Estimate of Prospective Resources for Block 2B is a target of 349 million barrels of oil[1]. The Island Innovator rig is booked for operation.

An online Stakeholder Meeting, as per the ‘Environmental Authorisation’ (EA – DEA Reference: 14/12/16/3/3/2/734), will be hosted on the Microsoft Teams Meeting Platform by environmental assessor EIMS and can be accessed through the link below:

15th June 2022 – Azinam Block 2B Exploration – Focus Group Meeting 2  From 15:00 – 16:00

Please register and reserve your space through the link provided above.

The presentation will be undertaken in English. Should any aspects require clarification in Afrikaans, such will be provided during the meeting. Registrations, or any queries, comments, or concerns with regards to this application, can be directed to EIMS at:

Contact Person: Qaphela Magaqa for any queries or concerns.
EIMS Reference Number: 1511
Postal Address: P.O. Box 2083; Pinegowrie; 2123
Telephone: (011) 789 7170/ Fax: (086) 571 9047
Please include the project reference number 1511 in all correspondence. 

The rig to be used: Island Innovator photo cred: Island Drilling

Relevant history: On 9 February 2010, Thombo (then Q Venture Development (South Africa) Limited which later became Thombo Petroleum Ltd) obtained a Record of Decision which approved the Environmental Management Programme (EMPR) for undertaking a 3D seismic survey in support of an exploration right application for Block 2B. The EMPR was approved by the Petroleum Agency SA (PASA) in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (No. 28 of 2002) (MPRDA), as amended. The decision limited the survey to a 1 700 km2 operational sail area and a fold cover area of 523 km2. Thombo obtained an exploration right (ER 12/3/105) for Block 2B offshore South Africa on 13 April 2011. Subsequently, various transfers of Participating Interests have taken place resulting in the following parties holding Participating Interests in Block 2B:

• Thombo Petroleum Limited – 34.50375%;

• Main Street 840 Proprietary Limited – 55.49625%; and

• Simbo Petroleum No. 2 Limited – 10%.

Thombo remained the operator of the block.

Under the Exploration Right and the approved EMPR, Thombo undertook a 3D seismic survey (20 January 2013 to 17 February 2013) during the initial three-year Exploration Right period. No other physical offshore exploration activities have been conducted over the block under the Exploration Right by the holders.

In October 2014, a Closure Plan was submitted to PASA for the relinquishment of a portion of Block 2B. A south-eastern portion with an approximate extent of 1 089.7 km was relinquished (relinquished on submission of 1st renewal period in March 2015). A further 15% was relinquished on submission of the 2nd renewal period in January 2017 and a further 15% relinquished on submission of the 3rd renewal period in February 2020 resulting in a remaining 3 063 km² for the 3rd period.]

In 2014, Thombo commenced with an application process to undertake exploration well drilling in the target area identified following the analysis of the 3D seismic acquisition. In terms of the MPRDA and NEMA at the time, an EIA and EMPR process were undertaken. The EIA and EMPR were submitted to the authorities in April 2016. The EIA was approved by the then Department of Environmental Affairs on 24 August 2016.

The First Renewal period (mentioned above) expired on 13 March 2017. On 26 January 2017 Thombo filed a joint application for the Second Renewal of the licence which commenced on 19 February 2018 and expired on 19 February 2020. Thombo submitted a joint application for the Third Renewal of the ER on 14 February 2020.


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