19 July 1996

THIS section, compiled by MEED country specialists, provides a summary of recent oil and gas project activity in 12 countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Several states are easing conditions to attract more foreign oil company investment with Algeria, Egypt and Oman, to varying degrees, reaping the rewards in rising activity.

SINCE The British Petroleum Company (BP) signed the first private gas production sharing agreement in December 1995, three new deals have been struck and many more companies have shown interest.

France's Total and Spain's Repsol made up the second group to invest in gas, signing an agreement in January for the development of the Tin Fouye Tabankort field, which is already producing gas from 30 wells. They have appointed the US' Brown & Root to boost production to 18 million cubic metres a day of dry gas, 700,000 tonnes a year of liquefied petroleum gas and 1 million tonnes a year of condensate.

State energy company Sonatrach is understood to be talking to several companies about other gas projects. Exxon is interested in the In Salah area, the southern gas region BP is opening up. Other gas projects on offer are In Amenas, Ohanet and Gassi Touil. Enron is understood to have expressed an interest and Russia's state-owned Lukoil has said it wants to invest substantial sums in hydrocarbon projects.

The 1992 initiative to win international investment and expertise for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects received new impetus with the signature in late February of a $1,500 million deal with the US' Arco. Arco is to quintuple crude production at the Rhourde el-Baguel field to 125,000 barrels a day (b/d). Several companies are understood to be interested in other FOR schemes, including Mobil and Occidental Petroleum, both of the US.

The US' Anadarko is waiting for final approval to develop the Hassi Berkine South and Hassi Berkine fields. Production should start at 40,000 b/d in 1997, with a second phase to raise production to 200,000 b/d.

Agip's oil production of 46,000 b/d at the Zemoul el-Kbar field in block 403 is to increase following a discovery announced at the end of 1995. Spain's Cepsa, whose Rhourde el-Krouf field came on stream in early May, will also boost production after a new discovery. It started with production of 12,000 b/d and will reach 70,000 b/d by the end of 1996. Its latest estimate put reserves at 150 million barrels.

There is also plenty of interest in exploration acreage. The latest deal to be signed is with Italy's Agip, which is already involved in three other concessions. Under a June exploration and production sharing agreement with Sonatrach, Agip will invest $21 million to explore the Wadi el-Teh field in block 440.

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