Blocks 1717 and 1817 are located in the eastern sector of the Owambo (Etosha) Basin in northern Namibia.. The two blocks cover an area of approximately 18,900 square kilometers and remain virtually unexplored. However the geology of the basin is known from: surface outcrops along the basin margins, the interpretation of aeromagnetic and older reflection seismic data, geochemical sampling and limited information from several core holes.
The blocks are part of what was then called the “Etosha Permit” originally granted by Southwest Africa to Texas Eastern Gas and Transmission Company in 1959. This Company immediately transferred the licence to its wholly owned subsidiary, the Etosha Petroleum Company. Subsequently three periods of exploration activity occurred, interrupted by lengthy periods of inactivity.
The original phase of exploration by Texas Eastern consisted of an aeromagnetic survey over the entire basin by Hunting Surveys Ltd. in 1962. This was followed by a gravity survey by Ray Geophysical Co. over selected areas in the west and central portions of the basin. A slim corehole stratigraphic test was drilled in 1964 to a depth of 6163 feet in the central portion of the basin.
In 1966, Brilund Mines Ltd. acquired Etosha Petroleum and upon completion of a geochemical survey acquired 2,000 km of Vibroseis seismic data during 1968-1970. Three wells were drilled but none were drilled deep enough to test the Otavi carbonate objectives.
No exploration activity took place between 1971 and 1989 as a result of political instability. In 1989, Overseas Petroleum Investment Corporation (OPIC) from Taiwan entered into a lease agreement with Brilund Ltd. The renewed activity resulted in the acquisition of 800 km of new seismic data and a detailed study of the existing well and outcrop data. OPIC drilled one shallow well to fulfill its work obligation and withdrew from the project in 1991.
In 1993, Occidental Petroleum joined with Etosha Petroleum and conducted a major data acquisition program to assess the presence and maturity of hydrocarbons in the basin. The results of this survey indicated the presence of a petroleum system in the basin. However Occidental withdrew in 1994.
From 1994 to 2003 there was no activity in the basin until First African Oil Corporation (FAOC) was awarded a Reconnaissance Licence over the entire area. FAOC acquired new aerogravity and aeromagnetic data over the central and eastern portions of the basin where there was a lack of seismic or well data. This Company was later acquired by Circle Oil Plc. which, having completed an Environmental Impact Study, withdrew from the area in November 2010.
The Government of Namibia decided that the basin was too large for proper evaluation by one company and thus new licences issued in 2011 consisted of much reduced and more manageable acreage.