Tunisia Hasdrubal field will get bulk of new investment

The UK’s BG International is to invest a further $450 million to expand operations in the energy sector over the next nine years. The announcement was made on 15 May following an agreement signed with the Tunisian government, state gas and electricity company Societe Tunisienne de l’Electricite et du Gaz (STEG) and state energy company Entreprise Tunisienne d’Activities Petrolieres (ETAP). The investment forms part of the BG Group’s plan of last July to invest some $7,600 million in its activities worldwide.

The majority of the Tunisian investment, some $300 million, will be put towards development of the Hasdrubal field where an appraisal well will be drilled in 2002. The new well will assess the additional reserves potential in the Amilcar Permit, prior to finalising a development plan. The Hasdrubal discovery, some 100 kilometres offshore in the Gulf of Gabes, contains around 260,000 million cubic feet of gas and some 25 million barrels of condensate. The development of the field has been targeted to meet the first available demand-gap in the market which is anticipated in 2007. BG says supplies could be boosted rapidly, should a gap appear earlier than expected.

A further $120 million has been allocated for the expansion in several phases of the Miskar field which now supplies 65 per cent of the country’s total daily gas demand and in which BG International has already invested over $600 million. Development of the field, located 25 kilometres north of the Hasdrubal field, is expected to increase gas supplies from Miskar to over 200 million cubic feet a day (cf/d) by 2001, from 168 million cf/d at present. Under an agreement with STEG, BG is able to supply as much as 230 million cf/d on a long-term basis, should demand dictate, and renegotiate or adjust the figure as required.

As part of the agreement, and in line with the 1999 hydrocarbon code, the price Tunisia pays for BG gas will no longer be indexed to the highly volatile high sulphur fuel oil price. Instead it will be indexed at 80 per cent of the low-sulphur fuel oil, which is much less prone tofluctuations.

Some $25 million of the new investment will be put towards further exploration in Tunisia. In addition to the $450 million, BG is seeking new investment opportunities throughout the gas chain in partnership again with STEG and ETAP. Possibilities include the provision of gas, the building of power projects and the developmentof compressed natural gas as a vehicle fuel.