The initial offshore exploration phase took place from the late 1960s to the early 1970’s and one well was drilled during this time by Chevron, Kudu 9A-1, which was the discovery well for the giant Kudu gas field in 1974. No further exploration for hydrocarbons was done by international operators until after Namibia became independent in 1990. In 1987-1988 Swakor, the predecessor company of the present National Oil Company, NAMCOR, drilled a further two wells in the Kudu field. The Kudu 2 well was not tested but Kudu 3 proved the existence of a major gas field. The proven hydrocarbons were an asset in Namibia’s first licensing round.
In 1991-1992 the first exploration licensing round was held with five licenses being awarded, the successful operators were Norsk Hydro, Ranger, Sasol, Chevron and Shell. Subsequently, in 1995 the second licensing round was held resulted in two new licenses being awarded to Shell. One of these licenses was an extension to the existing license that Shell had over the Kudu field. During this period, over 28 000km of 2D seismic was acquired in the respective licenses, as well as 60 000km of multi-client data.
The Third Licensing Round in 1998-1999 resulted in no applications being received, partly because of the low oil price at the time and the numerous international company mergers that were ongoing. The exploration period between 1991 and 1998 saw nine exploratory wells drilled and located mostly on the shelf. Although unsuccessful, these wells proved both clastic and carbonate potential reservoirs of mostly Cretaceous age and at least two rich oil prone rocks within Aptian and Cenomanian/Turonian interval. The mini-4th Round in 2004 eventually resulted in the award of two blocks to BHP-Billiton to the west and south of the Kudu field.
With an open licensing system adopted in 1999, Namibia experienced an influx in exploration activities from 2008 to date especially acquisition of 2D and 3D seismic surveys as more companies showed interest in the hydrocarbon potential of the Western margin. Within this period six (6) exploratory wells were drilled by various operators Sintezneftgaz drilled Kunene-1 well in 2008, Chariot drilled Tapir South-1 and Kabeljou-1 in 2012 , HRT drilled Wingat-1, Murombe-1 and Moosehead-1 wells in 2013 and Repsol drilled Welwitschia-1 well in 2014. The recent drilled well results confirmed the presence of lower Cretaceous rich source rocks, clastic and carbonate reservoirs and also proved an oil-based working petroleum system with two thick, rich mature source rocks within the Aptian Interval. To date, over 50 licenses have been awarded by the Ministry of Mines and Energy. The map shows all of the current licenses, 2D and 3D seismic coverage map in Namibia.