Algeria’s Sonatrach to begin first ever offshore drilling

Algeria’s Sonatrach to begin first ever offshore drilling

Algeria’s state-owned oil and gas company will launch offshore drilling with France’s Total and Italy’s ENI on the eastern coast between Bejaia and Skikda for the first time in its history.

According to Sonatrach’s Director for New Resources, Youcef Khankar, the campaign will begin in the second half of the year, with 2D and 3D seismic data acquisition campaigns currently underway.

The North African OPEC member has struggled to attract oil investment in recent years as its tough terms have made foreign companies wary.

Sonatrach last year began a more flexible approach to bilateral talks with foreign partners.

The targeted region for this new drilling campaign could contain several trillion cubic meters (tcm) of biogenic gas, officials said.

Initial results from the ongoing 2D seismic campaign suggest geological similarities between the east coast and Egypt’s Zohr field. Located in the Mediterranean Sea, the Zohr gas field is said to contain 30 tcm of natural gas.

Sonatrach and Total have also agreed last year to invest $406 million to boost the output of the gas field named Tin Fouye Tabankort Sud.

Oil and gas are the drivers of the economy in Algeria, the largest member of OPEC in terms of territory. Petroleum accounts for an overwhelming 85% of the country’s exports.

The country’s oil output was previously estimated at 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) but it has cut production by 50,000 bpd under an agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC producers aimed at raising crude prices.

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