Eni has said nothing, but early optimism about the extent of the Nour gas discovery has faded
The super-giant Zohr gas field, in the Shorouk concession with at least 30tn ft3 of gas in place, keeps on breaking records. After first production was achieved in less than two-and-a-half years post-discovery, Italy’s Eni now says that production has reached more than 2.7bn ft3/d (76.4mn m³/d)—five months ahead of plan.
A second 216km (134-mile) 30in pipeline connecting the offshore subsea production facilities to the onshore treatment plant just west of Port Said became operational in August. With this and the completion and optimisation of the plant treatment capacity, Eni says that, by end-2019, Zohr’s potential production rate will reach 3.2bn ft3/d (90.6mn m³/d), up from the 2.7bn ft3/d plateau envisaged in the development plan.
Gas from Zohr already accounts for around one-third of Egypt’s 6.5bn ft3/d output, and this extra production is enabling the resumption of LNG exports from the Idku plant—after a period when the country was forced to import LNG. The Damietta facility remains closed, pending the resolution of a dispute between the Egyptian government and operator Union Fenosa Gas, a joint venture between Eni and Spain’s Naturgy.
Eni was originally the sole Zohr concession holder, but later farmed out shares of the venture to other partners. Today, Eni holds 50pc, with Russia’s Rosneft owning 30pc, BP 10pc and the UAE’s Mubadala Petroleum 10pc.
At one time there was speculation that Eni might have struck lucky again in a major way at the Nour gas field off Sinai. Nour “was one of the high-impact wells on our watch list for 2019”, says Rohit Patel, senior exploration analyst at consultancy Rystad Energy, with some industry reports speculating that the gas prospect could be two-to-three times the size of Zohr.
“Eni has only reported that a gas discovery has been made [in March 2019] at the Nour prospect without providing any official information on the size of the discovery,” says Patel. Rystad “is currently conservative” on its size. “Our recoverable resource estimate is around 0.7-1tn ft³,” says Patel. “We will upgrade our resource estimates based on further updates from the operator.”
Eni says it has “no news” on the size of the Nour find. There can be multiple reasons for companies not to disclose the resource size at the time of the discovery announcement, says Patel. “Previous reports from Eni suggest that the discovery well was not tested and the discovery is still in the evaluation stage, which might potentially involve an array of complex and lengthy activities, including appraisal drilling, before the company can confirm the size of the discovery.”
In partnership with state-controlled Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company, Eni is the Nour operator (40pc), with co-owners BP (25pc), Mubadala Petroleum (20pc) and Egypt’s Tharwa Petroleum Company (15pc).