Invictus and Zimbabwe got gas. A lot of gas.
Invictus Energy’s (ASX:IVZ) got its gas.
It’s been a long search, but this morning the Aussie oil and gas explorer – focused on high-impact energy resources in sub-Saharan Africa – has delivered on both its mission and the latin meaning of its name – unconquerable or undefeated.
So much gas in fact, that the excited gov’t of Zimbabwe probably just broke ASX continuous disclosure Listing Rules 3.1 and/or 3.1A in its rush to get the news out.
I’m not dobbing. Just observing that everyone over there seems pretty damn excited. It’s probably a good thing that IVZ was in a trading halt when the news broke.
This is the breathless release out of Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Energy and Power Development, signed off by the Minister himself, Soda Zhemu.
Zhemu is a member of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party and represents the constituency of Muzarabani North.
And he is not holding back:
Now – as I’ve noted usually happens with Bevis’ Gandalf-like foresight – the package has arrived for IVZ, it’s shareholders and (I think we can say) for the nation and people of Zimbabwe.
The oil and gas explorer’s portfolio covers the highly prospective portion of the Cabora Bassa Basin in Zimbabwe, one of the largest under-explored interior rift basins in Africa.
SG 4571 contains the Mzarabani conventional gas-condensate prospect, the largest (previously) undrilled, seismically defined structure in onshore Africa with multi-Tcf potential. That’s trillion cubic feet in gas parlance and is typically the domain of giant offshore fields that LNG export projects are built around.
IVZ’s success probably shouldn’t be too surprising as the prospect was first defined by Mobil (now part of ExxonMobil) back during the 1990s.
Supermajors aren’t perfect, but they also tend to have a good idea of what’s prospective and what’s not. The reason Mobil chose to relinquish the project was because it was likely to be gas-bearing rather than a giant oil field, at a time where there was little demand for gas.
Times have changed of course and not only has Invictus gone all in with drilling, it has also deftly moved to up pretty much the entire oil and gas fairway at the Cabora Bassa basin that Mzarabani sits in.
This follows Invictus’ 80% owned subsidiary Geo Associates and the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe (SWFZ) signing an assignment agreement in August 2022 for assignment of the exploration rights to Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) 1848 and EPO 1849, which are contiguous to its main SG 4571 licence.
IVZ quickly followed this up with its announcement in November 2022 that its Mukuyu-1 well had confirmed a working hydrocarbon system in Zimbabwe’s Cabora Bassa Basin, sending its shares soaring 157% to 27c.
By proving that there’s indeed substance (gas in this case) to the company’s belief, the very first exploration well essentially de-risked all future exploration.
However, shares in the company tanked in January this year after it failed to recover the key wireline formation testing tool, preventing it from securing fluid and core data.
IVZ subsequently kicked off its second go at the project with the drilling of the Mukuyu-2 appraisal well about 7km away, which has now made what IVZ describes as the first Triassic aged hydrocarbon discovery in Sub Saharan Africa within the Upper Angwa formation.
While gains are muted – with shares up just 31.25% after moderating from gains of more than 55% – it is worth noting that this is very much the first stage in assessing what exactly the company has on its hands.
There’s still more drilling to be completed – towards the deeper Lowe Angwa formation that could host more gas – before IVZ gets down to the serious evaluation work such as wireline logging and possibly flow testing.
Success here will more than validate IVZ’s long standing belief that it is on to something massive.
The best part for me is just how thrilled Soda Zhemu is. Below is the kind of press release sign off one typically doesn’t see out of anyone’s Ministry: