PARIS - Namibia’s oil potential could one day match Guyana, where big discoveries have sparked an economic transformation and set the world’s biggest companies jostling for position.

There’s a “big chunk of oil” in waters off Namibia, said Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive officer of TotalEnergies SE (LON:TTE), which alongside several other companies has made significant discoveries in the African country.

“Shell has some oil, we have some oil, Galp has some oil,” Pouyanne said in an interview at the French company’s headquarters near Paris on Wednesday. A scenario “like you have today in Guyana is very possible”.

In the past two years, TotalEnergies, Shell Plc and Galp Energia SGPS SA have made finds off the southwest coast of Africa that turned sparsely populated Namibia into a hotspot for exploration. While no field has yet been given the green light for development, hopes are high in the country that an economic boom similar to that seen in Guyana could be on the cards.

The Latin American nation became the world’s fastest growing economy after Exxon Mobil Corp. tapped large offshore discoveries there. Earlier this month, the US company formally approved its sixth oil development in Guyana, which will one day make it a bigger crude producer than its neighbour and founding OPEC member Venezuela.

Pouyanne cautioned that it might be more complex to optimise several projects led by various operators in Namibia, rather than the single company Exxon that’s leading development in Guyana.

By the end of next year, TotalEnergies aims to approve its first oil development in Namibia at the Venus discovery, which could involve a floating production, storage and offtake vessel with a capacity of as much as 180,000 bpd, Pouyanne said. The company will continue to explore its blocks before considering whether it might need more production vessels, and can take heart that Shell seems to have made another find in an adjacent area, he said.

Officials from Namibia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy and state oil company Namcor visited Guyana late last year seeking advice about oil developments, including the participation of local business, raising public awareness and expanding port facilities.

There were a lot of problems experienced with infrastructure in Guyana “and the advice Namibia got was to take our time and do proper infrastructure assessment,” Maggy Shino, Namibia’s petroleum commissioner, said in an emailed response to questions.