RAKGAS to start geological mapping on oil blocks in Malawi – Mining & Trade Review

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RAKGAS to start geological mapping on oil blocks

By Deborah Manda

UAE firm, Rak Gas MB45, has announced plans to kick-start geological mapping on its blocks 4 and 5 as part of oil exploration work for the tenements located in Malawi’s part of the Africa Rift system.

Rakgas Country Manager Chimwemwe Chikusa says in a statement the company will engage a consulting firm to carry out the geological mapping exercise for a period of two months in order to better understand the onshore geology of the blocks.

Chikusa says that the consultant will, among other tasks, conduct a detailed site mapping of the rock and sedimentary outcrops and their structures utilising various technical inputs.

At the end of the consultancy, we want to have geological maps of the relevant scale according to details, remote sensing maps and a report analysing the findings including; significant geo-structural settings, lithological stratigraphic column and any other relevant findings,

says Chikusa.

He says the team shall include at least one experienced geologist with a minimum of a Master’s Degree and 15 years of related work experience preferably in Malawi.

The oil discoveries in Lake Chad, Sudan, Kenya and Uganda, which form part of the East African Rift system, aroused interest by oil companies to explore oil and gas in Malawi.

In 2009, the Government of Malawi demarcated six exploration blocks in Malawi’s Rift System which were awarded to multinational firms which include SacOil Holdings Block 1, Hamra Oil Holdings Blocks 2 and 3, Rak Gas Blocks 4 and 5, and Pacific Oil Ltd Block 6.

Oil exploration in Malawi started in 1980’s when  US’s Duke university conducted a ship borne seismic survey over lake Malawi which was sponsored by over 10 international oil companies including giant multinationals Shell B.V, Mobil and Placids.

The results of this research work indicate that there are thick sedimentary rocks in some parts of the lakebed with potential for hydrocarbon accumulation.

There is also presence of large structural features which are capable of trapping migrating petroleum and evidence to suggest that potential reservoir rock is being deposited locally along the lake margins, and there is a possibility of such deposits extending into Lake Malawi.

With such facts, geologists say although there is lack of geological evidence to demonstrate thermal maturity and a potential for source rocks, it is plausible to consider the petroleum potential of Malawi as good.

Hamra Oil is also reportedly mobilising to launch geological investigations for Blocks 2 and 3 which will include onshore drilling using environmentally friendly techniques.

Both Rak Gas and Hamra completed a full tensor survey over their blocks.

All petroleum prospecting licences were granted for a period of four years with the option of two additional three-year extension periods.


This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 52 (August 2017).

The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.


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