Current and Recent Projects

This is a busy time for me. I am actively working on two hydrocarbon exploration projects in Tanzania and one in Kenya, and have recently been (or still am) assessing the exploration potential of parts parts of East Africa, notably Madagascar, Kenya (Anza Graben), Tanzania (Mandawa Basin), South Africa (Algoa Basin), Central African Republic (very dodgy), Chad, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia (including Somaliland and Puntland), Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia. I think that’s all. I may have missed some off the list (oh yes, Eritrea) but that gives a flavour of where my recent efforts have lead me.

So are any of these counties or areas prospective for hydrocarbons? Some more than others, but none jump out at me as being sure-fire missed hydrocarbon basins. That’s the hell and the beauty of exploration, once you know were the oil is, its easy to find. Its the knowing where to look. For example, 10 years ago folk would have said that there would be no chance of finding commercial oil in western Uganda or north-western Kenya (see One way or another, a lot more effort and money must be spent before we find all the undiscovered oil across Africa.

The search for African oil is a giant jigsaw puzzle and there is no illustration on the lid of the box. Luckily, I like puzzles.

Bob Downie, Consultant Petroleum Geologist: About Me

Who am I and what is this blog about?

I am a Glasgow-based consultant petroleum geologist with over 30 years experience. By background, I am really a sedimentologist but as the years go by I look at less and less core and more and more seismic and wireline log data. This is not necessarily a bad thing as my background in sedimentology helps me populate these data with geologically credible models. I still find time to do fieldwork most years with my current stomping ground being in East African countries. In particular I have been doing a lot of work in the Rukwa and Lake Nyasa Rifts of SW Tanzania. Below is a picture from a spectacular ravine in the Lake Rukwa Rift where we were able to prove the presence of lacustine turbidite sediments and deltaic clinoforms.  This is clear evidence that the paleo-Lake was once deep, in striking contrast to present-day very shallow water. This has major implications for the petroleum prospectivity of the Rukwa Rift.

These days I work almost exclusively in new ventures exploration geology seeking out areas that have been under-evaluated or wholly overlooked in the global search for hydrocarbons. It keeps me busy and my the amount of detailed geographic knowledge I have acquired about the world means that I can bore for Scotland.

So what is this blog for? I am sure it will evolve but at moment I envisage that I will make posts on interesting things I am working on and pictures of places I visit. I will also likely post pictures of places I have visited We shall see.


Hope you like it