NON-executive chairman of Invictus Energy, the Australian company searching for oil and gas in the north of Zimbabwe, Dr Stuart Lake has stepped down three years after assuming the role and steering the company to the verge of a potential historic oil/gas discovery.
The Australia Stock Exchange-listed company recently said results from the initial evaluation of data from its first test drilling well, the Mukuyu-1 well site, showed strong evidence of potential presence of gas-bearing zones.
Invictus said Dr Lake, who joined the company on August 1, 2019 has stepped away from his role at the company for personal reasons, effective November 28 2022. He led the company’s oil and gas exploration sojourn, accomplishing several milestones during the period.
Dr Lake leaves the company in good stead to complete a journey that could contribute significantly towards achievement of the Government’s target of a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023, and ultimately Vision 2030, by which Zimbabwe is expected to be a prosperous and empowered upper middle-income society.
The notable successes during his leadership included his involvement in the signing of a Petroleum Exploration Development and Production Agreement (PEDPA) and extension of the licence area with the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe.
President Mnangagwa said last year, during the signing ceremony for the PEDPA at State House that the agreement represented major strides “in our efforts to tap into our oil and gas deposits, which is a new territory in the country’s mining sector”. He also said potential benefits of a successful or commercial oil and gas discovery included electricity generation, production of liquid petroleum, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), fertiliser production and petrochemicals.
Under Dr Lake’s stewardship, Invictus also acquired new seismic (sub-surface vibration) data and carried out extensive pre-drill sub-surface work, which de-risked the portfolio and resulted in a significant increase in prospective resources across the company’s Cabora Bassa acreage.
This culminated with the drilling of the first conventional oil and gas exploration well in Zimbabwe, Mukuyu-1, which has already proven to be a working hydrocarbon system, as announced in a regulatory statement released on November 10 2022.
Dr Lake, in his parting shot carried in a statement released by the company ahead of his impending departure, suggested the company had confirmed the ‘presence of hydrocarbons’ at the firm’s first exploration drilling site, Mukuyu-1. After noting strong evidence of petroleum deposits at Mukuyu-1, Invictus decided to drill beyond the targeted depth of 3,5-kilometre while further evaluation still needs to be undertaken to prove if the identified hydro-carbons exist in commercially recoverable volumes. Invictus, recently said its success in rapidly progressing the oil and gas project, was largely a result of the extensive support rendered by the Government, including national project status and legislated enabling provisions.`
As looks likely to be the case, Dr Lake will be largely credited with the now highly likely commercial discovery of oil and gas in Caborra Bassa, which he indicated earlier this year he was confident the company would achieve, as this is backed by a solid record of successful similar projects.
Invictus said the board had commenced a global search for suitable chairperson candidates and anticipates an appointment to the role in the first quarter of 2023.
“Due to personal circumstances, I am unable to dedicate the necessary time and focus required for the increasingly demanding role and I will be stepping down from the board.
“With the presence of hydrocarbons in our first exploration well, this is an opportune time for the company to bring in a new chairman with a complimentary skill set to lead the commercialisation efforts as the company transitions from an explorer.
“I have full confidence in the leadership of the Company to manage, develop and optimise the opportunities going forward and wish our company every success on its future pathway,” Dr Lake said.
The board thanked Dr Lake for his commitment to Invictus over the past three years.
Invictus managing director said Dr Lake played a significant role in the firm’s history-making exploration campaign in Zimbabwe, which has already proven a working hydrocarbon system in the Cabora Bassa basin.
“While Stuart is regretfully stepping away for personal reasons, I am pleased he will continue with us on this exciting exploration journey as a major shareholder as we look to unlock the potential of the Cabora Bassa basin.
“We have commenced the search for suitable candidates to chair the company through the potential next phase of exciting growth as we look to build on our exploration success to date,” Mr MacMillan said.
Invictus is opening one of the last untested large frontier rift basins in onshore Africa – the Cabora Bassa Basin – in northern Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland Central Province through a high-impact exploration programme.
The company’s principal asset is special grant (SG) 4571 located in the Cabora Bassa Basin in Zimbabwe, which contains the world-class Mukuyu (Muzarabani) prospect – the largest undrilled prospect onshore Africa.
SG 4571 was independently estimated to contain 20 Trillion cubic feet (Tcf) and 845 million barrels of conventional gas condensate (gross mean unrisked basis).
The firm’s other asset is exclusive prospecting order (EPO) 1849 contains the Basin Margin play with an estimated 1,2 billion barrels of oil (gross mean unrisked) across five drill-ready prospects, which will be tested by the Baobab-1 well.