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Oil companies are flocking to Namibia, excited by the country’s plans to open up a major new frontier basin with recent offshore finds ranking among the largest this century.

Namibia, which has yet to produce any oil or gas, has become an exploration hotspot after offshore discoveries by TotalEnergies TTE-N and Shell SHEL-N, and wants to accelerate the milestone of the country’s first output.

The southern African country is planning for its first oil production from TotalEnergies’ giant Venus field in 2029/2030, its petroleum commissioner Maggy Shino said.

In the most recent strike, Portugal’s Galp Energia said it had found at least 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent in its Mopane field, in the largely unexplored Orange Basin.

“It is one of the newest and most attractive areas being explored by the industry and we are very excited by the discoveries so far,” James Parr, vice president for new ventures exploration and development at Woodside Energy, told Reuters.

“The oil is potentially some of the lowest carbon barrels being found currently so on the spectrum of oil its very attractive. There seems to be abundant gas which is also part of our transition and a big focus for Woodside,” Parr added.

Woodside is evaluating data before committing to drill in PEL 87 offshore Namibia and expects to make a decision by June or July, he said on the sidelines of an energy conference.

Energy Minister Tom Alweendo said any clean energy shift should factor in Namibia’s goals and priorities as it also strives towards net zero carbon emissions.

“We deserve an energy transition that takes a pragmatic approach to resolving energy poverty by making our own natural resources part of the solution,” he told delegates at the event.

U.S. oil major Chevron CVX-N is expected to begin exploration in Namibia later this year, with Exxon Mobil XOM-N aiming to follow in 2025, commissioner Shino said.

Moving onshore, Shino said there are plans for a multi-drilling campaign by Reconnaissance Energy Africa in the ecologically sensitive Okavango region.

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