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UAE-based Dana Gas will begin drilling in an area that could become the second largest Egyptian natural gas field in the Mediterranean in 2019, after seismic data indicated reserves of about 20 trillion cubic feet.

"The data will be tested in April or May, when drilling begins in an area that may have between 4 and 6 trillion cubic feet of gas," the company's chief executive, Patrick Ullman Ward, told Reuters on Tuesday on the sidelines of an energy forum.

"If the geological business goes according to what we expect, then if it succeed, there may be a reserve of about 4 to 6 trillion cubic feet of gas," he said.

"This is one of the only areas of the field north of El Arish field, which is located east of the Mediterranean Sea, one of the three fields of the company in the concession area 6, which obtained a license to explore in 2014».

"The three fields together may have reserves of about 20 trillion cubic feet," he said. "The company's investments are modest between $ 50 million and $ 100 million a year, but it will invest about $ 5 billion to develop the three fields in the best possible way."

This level of reserves will make the region second only to the Masr el-Masri field, which has reserves of around 30 trillion cubic feet, making Egypt a major player in the Mediterranean gas, which now hopes to become a regional re-export hub.

"The $ 5 billion is the highest estimate of the total cost of developing the entire region if the three fields succeed together, perhaps by 2023," he said.

"The discovery may be a key factor in enhancing Egypt's role as a regional gas trading hub and supporting its supplies if the reserves of the field of Afar begin to decline. Egypt faces the prospect of becoming a net importer of gas by 2023 without significant new discoveries."

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