Natural gas, deepwater production driving trans-Mediterranean activity
Wells drilled to date offshore Montenegro or close to shore. Hydraulic design issues for deepwater field developments (source: BP). Energy needs across the northern Mediterranean are being driven by gas developments to the south. New gas discoveries and moving the gas to markets around Africa and the Mediterranean dominated keynote sessions at the Offshore Mediterranean Conference (OMC) in Ravenna, Italy.
Oil finds fewer now, but energy shortfall growing
- Wells drilled to date offshore Montenegro or close to shore.
- Hydraulic design issues for deepwater field developments (source: BP).
Gas from these fields will be collected and processed at Sabrata on Libya's north-west coast. From there, a newly installed subsea pipeline will send 8 bcm/yr to Italy, with 2 bcm reserved for domestic Libyan needs. Moscato sounded defiant against implicit pressure from the US. If the senior Libyan official were barred from flying direct to the next OMC, Moscato said he could be routed over instead via Baghdad. Moscato also attempted to justify ENI's deal by emphasizing that Italy's government favors integration of Libya into the recently formed Europe-Mediterranean Partnership. As for Egyptian gas, the options for export are an eastward-bound pipeline along the coast or subsea supplying Palestine, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon and maybe Turkey, said Moscato. The Egyptian gas network could also link in with Libya's. Alternately, an LNG project could emerge supplying potential regasification centers in Turkey, Greece and elsewhere. ENI is working with Amoco and the Egyptian authorities to define a solution. Moscato forecast intra-Mediterranean gas trade rising from 30 bcm in 1990 to 86 bcm in 2010, mostly through pipelines. But this would be bolstered by outside supplies from the FSU and LNG from Nigeria. However, he warned that a Mediterranean gas market based on the current pipeline transmission system might prove too rigid, with receiving centers neither widespread nor diversified enough. For that market to become more vigorous and dynamic, he suggested, the present structure should be integrated with new LNG projects, allowing each new exporting country to be linked to the importing countries through trunklines and unloading points. In turn, a `spot' component should be encouraged. There are obstacles to such a development in the Mediterranean, he said, above all the cost of the technologies involved. Only over distances of 1,500-2,500 km, and in large quantities, are LNG projects cost-competitive with subsea pipelines. There is also environmental opposition to building of regasification terminals along the Mediterranean coasts. Agip's own solution, which it has worked on with Tecnomare since 1992, concerns floating receiving terminals located far out at sea. These would house regasification plants that could feed directly into existing pipeline networks. The terminals (specially designed vessels) would be anchored offshore, preferably close to the producing fields or gas pipelines. There could even be multiple centers of various sizes supplied by a series of LNG carriers.
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