BP, Eni Announce New Gas Discovery Off Egyptian Coast

Newest find confirms potential of area estimated to hold 70-80 billion cubic meters of gas, says Italian energy firm Eni.

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Eni's Bouri Offshore oil terminal is seen off the Libyan coast, in the Mediterranean sea, Tuesday, ACredit: AP

The European energy companies BP and Eni on Thursday announced a significant natural gas discovery off the Egyptian coast.

The discovery in the Baltim southwest exploration prospect in the East Nile Delta is 10 kilometers north of the Nooros gas field which was discovered in July last year and has a production rate of 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, the companies said.

The new discovery “further confirms the significant potential of the so called Great Nooros Area, which is now estimated to hold 70-80 billion cubic meters of gas in place,” said Italy’s Eni, which through its subsidiary IEOC, holds a 50% stake in the licence of Baltim South. Britain’s BP holds the rest.

“Our plan is to utilize existing infrastructure which will accelerate the development of the discovery, and expedite early production start-up,” said Hesham Mekawi, regional president of BP North Africa.

Once an energy exporter, Egypt has turned into a net importer because of declining oil and gas production and increasing consumption.

It is trying to speed up production at recent discoveries to fill its energy gap as soon as possible. Egypt currently has 12 natural gas field development projects under way worth a total of $33 billion.

The three largest projects, which include the mammoth Mediterranean gas field Zohr discovered by Eni last year, are expected to collectively bring 4.6 billion cubic feet of gas per day online by the start of 2019.

The Egyptian discoveries could have an impact of Israel’s prospects for exporting its own natural gas to regional customers. Until Zohr was discovered, the partners in Israel’s Leviathan field had been counting on contracts with foreign companies operating in Egypt to reexport liquified natural gas from facilities now standing idle in the country to Europe. With Egypt’s gas reserves mounting, they may now be able to source gas domestically.

On the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the Oil and Gas Index ended down 0.8% at 957.05 points.