TotalFinaElf says full production at Balal is set to reach 40,000 barrels a day (b/d) following the completion of drilling in the first quarter of 2003. Two wells have been drilled so far, with drilling of another three under way. The project also involves drilling five water injection wells. The oil from Balal, which holds an estimated 100 million barrels of reserves, will be transported via an existing NIOC pipeline to Lavan island.

TotalFinaElf holds a 46.75 per cent stake in the scheme, with Eni and Bow Valley holding 38.25 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. The project was awarded to TotalFinaElf and Bow Valley by NIOC in early 1999, but the French firm decided to reduce its stake because it considered its original holding of 85 per cent as too high (MEED 16:4:99).

TotalFinaElf is also pressing ahead with the estimated $1,000 million buy-back contract, signed in 1999, to increase oil production at the onshore Doroud field by 85,000 b/d to about 205,000 b/d (MEED 30:11:01).

Full production at Doroud, located partly onshore and offshore Kharg island, is expected to be reached in the first half of 2004 through gas and water injection. The first two of five offshore wells came on stream in May. Another 24 onshore wells, located on Kharg island, have still to be drilled. Sharjah-based Petrofac International, with its local partner Jahanpars, has the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build the onshore surface facilities.

TotalFinaElf is the operator on the Doroud development and has a 55 per cent stake in the project, with Eni holding the remainder.