Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe has welcomed the announcement made by French oil and gas company Total of a significant gas discovery in the Outeniqua Basin, off the coast of South Africa.

Total said on Thursday that it had made a gas condensate discovery on the Brulpadda prospects after drilling in deep sea waters, 175 kilometres off the southern coast of South Africa.

Located on Block 11B/12B in the Outeniqua Basin, Total said the Brulpadda well encountered 57 meters of net gas condensate pay in Lower Cretaceous reservoirs.

Following this discovery and confirmation of its potential, the company has indicated it will follow up with 3D seismic tests to be followed up by four exploration wells.

Mantashe, who visited the Total’s deep sea stavenger rig operations on Saturday, said in a statement that it was exciting for the country that this discovery has been made.

“It is potentially a major boost for the economy, and we welcome it as we continue to seek investment to grow our economy,” Mantashe said.

“It further confirms that our decision to separate legislation for oil and gas from traditional minerals, so that we can support this sector in realizing its full potential, is the correct one.”

The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill has been withdrawn from Parliament to separate oil and gas from the mining legislation and a draft Upstream Petroleum (Oil and Gas) Bill is in the process of being developed.

Government has said this Bill will provide certainty to the upstream petroleum industry and stimulate growth and development in this sector. In respect of mining, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 as amended continues to apply.

Mantashe said his department was moving with speed to finalize this legislation, to ensure that it is presented as soon as the 6th Parliament sits.

Kevin McLachlan, senior vice president for exploration at Total, said the well was deepened to a final depth of 3,633 meters and has also been successful in the Brulpadda-deep prospect.

“With this discovery, Total has opened a new world-class gas and oil play and is well positioned to test several follow-on prospects on the same block,” McLachlan said.