North Africa Round-Up
The North Africa region offers huge opportunities, but the bottom line is a that its social challenges need to be solved. The region is the venue of one of the world’s current hottest regions, namely Egypt. With the catastrophic energy shortage gripping Europe, Egypt is considered well positioned to be the regional hub supplying gas to the hungry European market. However, Egypt’s domestic gas consumption is high and this restricts exports, but the country has set goals to be a significant exporter in the future.
Eni is the largest player in North Africa, with one of its major assets being the Zohr gas field in the Mediterranean Sea offshore Egypt in some 1,450m of water. Zohr is located within the Shorouk concession and Eni has a 50% stake in the block. The other partners are Rosneft (30%), BP (10%) and Mubadala Petroleum (10%). The field was discovered in 2015 by the Zohr-1X well which encountered gas in a giant Miocene reef. The deepwater field is reported to contain 30 Tcf with first production in 2017, impressively just two years after discovery, and reached its peak production capacity of 2.7 Bcfd in August 2019.
In a significant move in 2021 Capricorn Energy (formerly Cairn Energy), with its partner Cheiron Petroleum Corporation, acquired Shell’s Western Desert production and exploration portfolio in Egypt with significant potential for production growth.
Egypt has continued to attract investment and in January 2022 it was announced that eight blocks were awarded in the first international digital bid round in the Mediterranean, Western Desert, and the Gulf of Suez. The 2021 round had included 24 blocks. Eni dominated and was awarded five of the blocks, four as operator. Meanwhile, the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) held a Limited Bid-Round for the North King Mariut Offshore, in the western part of the Nile Delta Basin, between November 2021 and February 2022.
In Morocco, patience has paid off for Chariot Limited when in January 2022 it announced a significant gas discovery at its Anchois-2 exploration/appraisal well located in the offshore Lixus Licence in the Rharb Basin. The well confirmed gas that Repsol had encountered in its 2009 Anchois-1 wildcat but also discovered gas in deeper horizons. Subsequently in February 2022 Chariot announced it had been awarded the Rissana Offshore Licence which surrounds the Lixus Licence. The success at Anchois-2 will have had a major impact in de-risking prospects in the Lixus and newly awarded Rissana licences and could set up a potential gas hub.
In a boost to the Algerian industry, Eni continued its activity in North Africa by signing a new oil contract related to the onshore Berkine Basin area. The contract, which is the first ever signed under the new Algerian oil law, is situated in the southern part of the basin, near Eni's current production assets.