Huge gas find off Egypt sign of many more: Eni

A female employee fills the tank of a car at a petrol station in Cairo, Egypt, in this February 24, 2016 file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 15 March 2017
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Huge gas find off Egypt sign of many more: Eni

NICOSIA, Cyprus: The discovery of a huge natural gas deposit in Egyptian waters has boosted hopes of other such finds in the eastern Mediterranean that could help meet Europe’s energy needs, a senior official with Italian oil and gas company Eni said Tuesday.
Eni SpA Chief Exploration Officer Luca Bertelli told a gas conference Tuesday that his company’s “milestone” discovery of Zohr, estimated to hold 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, has reinvigorated the interest of other major oil and gas companies in the region.
He said waters off Cyprus hold potential for new discoveries while exploration opportunities are coming up with Lebanon and Israel soon offering offshore areas, or blocks, to bidders for exploration licensing.
Bertelli said Eni expects the first gas to start flowing from Zohr by the end of 2017 to meet Egypt’s domestic demand for decades. Fully developing the deposit will cost up to €12 billion ($12.8 billion).
For export, Bertelli said Egypt could bring two idle processing plants back on stream to liquefy gas so it can be exported to the European markets.
He said geological features off Cyprus are similar to those around where the Zohr deposit was discovered, raising hopes for new finds. Earlier drilling by Texas-based Noble Energy discovered a field estimated to contain over 4 trillion cubic feet in reserves.
If more fields are discovered off Cyprus, the island could opt to build a processing plant of its own to export gas, said Bertelli.
Now that Eni’s gas discovery has put Egypt’s Mediterranean waters on the map, major international oil companies say they plan to step up their investments in the country, expecting to find more oil and gas.
Once a net gas exporter, Egypt has turned into a major importer in recent years as growing domestic demand outstripped production, but the discovery of the Zohr field is expected to change that.
The field is expected to come into production by the end of the year and will save Egypt billions of dollars in hard currency that would otherwise be spent on imports.
The Egyptian government is also seeking to attract foreign investors as it seeks to transform itself into a gas trading hub for its own and other emerging Mediterranean producers.
Globally, Egypt remains outside the top 10 countries in gas reserves, with Russia, Iran and Qatar holding by far the largest.


Saudi Aramco discussing investments in India’s Reliance Industries

Updated 22 min 50 sec ago
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Saudi Aramco discussing investments in India’s Reliance Industries

  • World's biggest oil company targets petrochemicals
  • India is a top investment priority for Saudi Arabia

NEW DELHI: Saudi Aramco’s CEO Amin Nassar said on Wednesday that the company is in talks with India’s Reliance Industries for possible investments and is seeking other opportunities in the country.
Saudi Aramco signed an agreement in April with a consortium of state-owned Indian refiners to participate in a $44 billion refinery project on the country’s west coast.
“We are looking at additional investment in India so we are in discussions with other companies as well, including Reliance and others,” Nasser said in a panel discussion in New Delhi.
“We are looking at it. We are not limited to that investment which is the mega refinery,” Nasser said, referring to the west coast project, which would process 1.2 million bpd of crude and produce 18 million tons per year of petrochemicals.
Nasser is part of the entourage traveling with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is in India for a one-day visit.
Reliance Industries, controlled by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, is India’s biggest refining and petrochemicals company and runs a 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) refinery in western India. It plans to expand the capacity to 2 million bpd by 2030, according to plans shared with the Indian government.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude oil exporter, is keen to expand further into oil refining and petrochemicals.
India would provide a fast growing market for oil and fuels and is already a steady buyer of Saudi oil.
“India is an investment priority for Saudi Aramco. India takes from us almost 800,000 barrels a day and by 2040 India’s total consumption will be around 8.2 million barrels per day,” Nasser said.
India is currently world’s third-biggest crude oil consumer with demand of 4.7 million bpd, according to government figures.
However, Aramco is already facing delays for the refinery project, planned for the western state of Maharashtra, as thousands of farmers have refused to surrender land for it.
Reuters reported on Tuesday the Maharashtra government is looking to move the refinery location.
Yousef Al-Benyan, the chief executive officer for SABIC, the Saudi Arabia-based petrochemical company that is the fourth largest in the world, was also on the panel. He said SABIC wants to expand its business and presence in India.