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MENA news roundup

The Middle East and North Africa has long been one of the most influential regions for the global oil and gas industry, thanks to its location and large reserves of hydrocarbons. Recent developments, such as those detailed in this roundup, mean its importance is unlikely to diminish in the years to come.

Huge gas field discovered off coast of Egypt

One of the world's largest natural gas fields has been discovered off the coast of Egypt.

The Zohr field measures 100 sqkm and is located 1,450 m beneath sea level, according to Eni, the Italian energy group responsible for the find. 

Eni, the biggest foreign energy firm in Africa, holds full concession rights to the field, which it believes is large enough to meet Egypt's gas needs for decades to come.

Zohr could contain as much as 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, or 5.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

This would be enough to make Egypt a major player in the global gas market. In comparison, Iran and Russia - the two countries with the world's largest proven reserves of natural gas - are thought to have 34 trillion and 32 trillion cubic metres of gas respectively.

Hailing the find, Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi was quoted by the BBC as saying: "This historic discovery will be able to transform the energy scenario of Egypt."

The announcement comes three months after Eni signed an exploration contract with the Egyptian oil ministry, giving it the rights to search in the Sinai, the Gulf of Suez, the Mediterranean and parts of the Nile Delta.

Algeria plans 13% increase in gas output

Algeria is planning a significant boost in natural gas output over the next four years, the country's energy ministry has revealed.

In the latest edition of its inhouse magazine Algeria Energy, the ministry unveiled plans to step up production by 13 per cent by 2019, reversing the decline of recent years that has slashed export earnings and hampered spending policy.

According to Reuters, the investment required to deliver the proposed increase in gas output stands at $40 billion, although only sparse details were given on how or where production would be phased up.

The Algerian economy is heavily reliant on revenues generated by the energy industry. Three-fifths of the national budget and 95 per cent of its exports stem from the sector.

The fall in production and the global drop in oil prices have seen energy earnings decline by 50 per cent to $34 billion this year. Export volumes dipped by 8.9 per cent in the first quarter.
Iran to step up oil production post-sanctions

Iran is planning a major increase in oil production in anticipation of an end to years of sanctions from Western markets.

If the US Congress supports a nuclear deal agreed in July, Iran will finally make its return to the world oil market, and Tehran is already looking to significantly ramp up output.

Speaking to CNN, Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh unveiled plans to raise net oil production by more than 1.5 million barrels per day, taking total output to just over four million barrels per day.

"Around the end of next year, we will be close to this figure," he told the US broadcaster.

Zanganeh believes Iran could become the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' second biggest producer of oil, after Saudi Arabia, within just seven or eight months of the sanctions being lifted.

Prior to sanctions being imposed, Iran was producing around three million barrels per day. 

Iran plans to offload oil and gas fields to foreign investors

Iran is poised to offer foreign investors the chance to acquire three gas fields and an oil layer.

The North Pars, Golshan and Ferdowsi gas fields and South Pars oil layer are among almost 50 projects that will be opened up to international investors by the country, which has $185 billion worth of contracts up for grabs.

North Pars, located in the Persian Gulf, is estimated to hold 57.1 trillion cubic feet of sour gas, while Golshan holds more than 50 trillion cubic feet of gas and is also expected to yield a further two billion cubic feet following additional development work.

South Pars is situated inside the world's largest gas field and is believed to contain seven billion barrels of oil. According to petroleum ministry officials, the layer could produce up to 35,000 barrels per day within the first phase.

Middle East well completion market 'to grow 5% a year'

The market for well completion equipment in the Middle East is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of nearly five per cent between 2015 and 2019, according to a new report from Technavio.

The research highlights the increase in unconventional oil and gas resources - such as tight oil and shale gas - that has come about through the decline in production and exploration of conventional reserves.

To date, Saudi Aramco has spent $3 billion on developing unconventional gas resources in Saudi Arabia, and the market share of oil and gas from such sources is expected to grow further over the study period.

Faisal Ghaus, vice president of Technavio, said: "Advances in technology have increased the volumes of production and reduced the costs and risks associated, motivating vendors to make bigger investments in R&D to improve the reliability and efficiency of the well completion equipment."

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