The new finds were made by Ocean Energyof the US in the East Zeit block and by Canada’s Cabre Explorationin the West Esh el-Mallaha block. Fahmy said the offshore discovery, some 70 kilometres north of Hurghada, had tested at 8,000 b/d of 38% API crude oil, with reserves estimated at 60 million barrels. He described it as one of the largest finds in the Gulf of Suez for a long time.

Ocean Energy says initial production from the area will start by the end of October. Delineation and further development of the field is planned for 2002.

The Cabre discovery was in the Rabeh West well, drilled onshore about 7 kilometres west of Hurghada. The well flowed at 3,300 b/d of 38.2% API crude, and has reserves estimated at 33 million barrels, Fahmy said. It follows two earlier discoveries in the block in the late-1990s (MEED 30:10:01).

The government is hoping to attract more investment in exploration through a major new bid round involving 32 blocks, including nine in the Gulf of Suez. The closing date is 15 November (MEED, Egypt Special Report, 20:4:01).