NORTH AFRICA

EGYPT - Egypt has suddenly burst on the world stage as a major gas producer. Its ever-expanding Mediterranean gas province centered on the Nile Delta has propelled the once energy-poor country past self-sufficiency into the realm of world-class gas exporter. No more does the country have to rely on a rickety complex of energy sources based mainly on electric power generated by the Aswan High Dam on the upper Nile and hydrocarbons from the Gulf of Suez and Western Desert.

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An Amoco production platform offshore Egypt.


EGYPT - Egypt has suddenly burst on the world stage as a major gas producer. Its ever-expanding Mediterranean gas province centered on the Nile Delta has propelled the once energy-poor country past self-sufficiency into the realm of world-class gas exporter. No more does the country have to rely on a rickety complex of energy sources based mainly on electric power generated by the Aswan High Dam on the upper Nile and hydrocarbons from the Gulf of Suez and Western Desert.

The oilfields of the Gulf of Suez and Western Desert have begun to decline, but Egypt isn't worried; its Nile Delta gas reserves are more than compensating for the dwindling oil. Amoco, Agip, British Gas, and Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation have been steadily increasing the known natural gas reserves off Egypt's north coast until they now stand at an official estimate of some 50 tcf. As a consequence, EGPC and Amoco will construct and operate a US$2-4 billion LNG plant in the Delta, and pipelines linking the Delta, Western Desert, and current gas grid are planned, since Egypt's domestic consumption is expected to rise to 2.8 bcf/d within a decade. Turkey will receive the first shipments of LNG in 2000.

Like 1995, last year was an exceptional year for exploration and development in the country, particularly in Egypt's Gulf of Suez and Mediterranean shelf regions. New discoveries and increased production seem to be occurring daily. In fact, even though the Gulf of Suez and Western Desert fields are declining, Egypt's oil production has been rising every year, and now is approaching a million bbl or 50 tons a year.

The Gulf of Suez is nevertheless at the center of Egypt's oil industry and is the major activity area in the country, providing more than 80% of total production. Its fields yielded more than 40 million tons of crude oil last year, primarily from the Ashrafi and East Badr Fields, which have been put back into production after considerable workover.

Both 3D seismic and drilling (19 rigs) are occurring from Suez city to the Red Sea, with the highest concentration of activity in the Zaafarana (British Gas) and Abu Zeneima (IEOC) area. Further drilling and development is continuing at Abu Qir in the Zeit Bay and near both the October and North October Fields, in the area east of Abu Rhudeis and Budran Fields, and to the northeast of Belayim Field.

Several recent discoveries are significant, including Wakkar Field, the Agip/EGPC field in the Nile Delta, began production last year at 42 million cf/d gas and 2,700 b/d condensate. Production is being piped to Port Said. The field holds approximately 1.4 tcf gas. Balaym Petroleum Co. is the operator. Elsewhere in the Nile Delta, Amoco has found significant gas reserves in its North Sinai concession. The Tao-1 wildcat tested 37.9 million cf/d gas of high quality. This is the company's 16th discovery here in just five years.

TUNISIA - The ETAP-Elf Ashtart Field, now in its third phase of development following installation of a new production platform, should be producing more than a million tons of crude a year in two years. Located at 66 meters water depth in the Gulf of Gabes, 76 km southwest of Sfax, some eight new wells were drilled from the platform during 1996.

The giant Gulf of Gabes Miskar Field has changed the complexion of Tunisian production considerably. Onstream last year, the ETAP (Entreprise Tunisienne d'Activites Petrolieres) BG field, cost more than $630 million to develop, with 12 production platforms, but now has an of some 160 million cf/d gas.

Other fields in the area showing considerable promise are BG's West Kerkennah and North Kerkennah Fields, the Hashdrubal Field, and the Salloum Field, Samedan's Gulf of Hammamet Cap Bon fields Isis (which went onstream last year at 40,000 b/d oil), Tazerka, and Oudna Fields, and Marathon's Ezzaouia and Zarat. With the award of the

Ulysse Permit, a three-block concession totaling 1,912 sq km, to BG, the UK company is now the largest foreign acreage holder in the country, with 6,528 sq km.

Copyright 1997 Oil & Gas Journal. All Rights Reserved.

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