Our balcony in Cape Town faces due west, and in the summer months, from early to late afternoon, it is just too hot and much too bright to sit out there. But once the sun nears setting, it is almost idyllic to sit and watch the buildings, the trees and Signal Hill slowly transform from detail to silhouette. And then, one by one, the stars appear.
But last night was different. Suddenly, in late afternoon, a huge deep sea drilling rig appeared just off-shore. It was the Deepsea Stavanger, a Norwegian rig.
The Deepsea Stavanger was built in 2010. It has a tonnage of 43,708, with an area of 119 m by 97 m, and a draught of 17 m. Recently it has been drilling at a depth of more than 1400 m off Mossel Bay, about halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
In 2014 a similar drilling attempt had to be abandoned; the rig that had been contracted was not capable of withstanding the severe storms and strong currents, conditions in which the Deepsea Stravanger is built to excel.
When we looked later in the evening, a fog was rolling in and the rig was hidden from view. The fog made Capetown Stadium look as if it was on fire.
Today we walked along the seafront and the Deepsea Stavanger looked really enormous.
Then in late afternoon, the lights on the rig were switched on, and it started to slowly move westwards. And from my desk, some hours later, it is a small receding light on the north-western horizon.
Oil experts are confident that South Africa will soon be able to announce the discovery of a major new energy field.
Let’s hope that they are right…