Photograph — Embassy of Zimbabwe

Already one of Africa’s biggest oil producers, Egypt is poised to become a regional energy hub after recent events. The country’s petroleum ministry on Tuesday announced a new gas discovery in the Nile Delta area with an estimated production of 20 million cubic feet per day.

According to a statement from the ministry, the discovery of gas-carrying layers was made by Petrobel-Belayim, an Egyptian petroleum company which manages gas and oil projects in the area. The finding was a result of the exploration of a well in El Qaraa area of the Nile Delta which began in May. With the major discovery, the local firm is now accelerating the development to put the well on stream once it is linked to production facilities.

The latest discovery comes at a time when the North African country is looking to up its natural gas production as well as become a regional gas hub for the trade of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). After major gas discoveries in recent years, including the Zohr gas field in 2015, Egypt announced self-sufficiency in natural gas consumption last year with a gradual increase in local production.

The plan is to develop major gas fields in the Mediterranean in cooperation with giant international companies. After the completion and operation of the gas field projects nationwide, Egypt’s natural gas output is expected to reach eight billion cubic feet per day during the fiscal year 2019/2020.

The target was determined a few months after officials said the country’s natural gas output had reached 6.6 billion cubic feet per day due to an increase in production at Zohr. The field represents the largest natural gas discovery ever made in Egypt and the Mediterranean, with an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas.

ENI’s oil discovery

Meanwhile, Italy’s oil giant ENI announced an oil discovery in the Gulf of Suez, on the Sidri South exploration prospect in Egypt. The discovery may hold up to 200 million barrels of oil in place, the energy multinational disclosed in a press release late last month.

The well has been completed and brought on stream through production facilities available in the area and Petrobel – the operator of the exploration lease on behalf of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and ENI – plans to develop the new discovery with about 10 wells that will be drilled in the near future.

Moreover, production from South West Meleiha Development Lease, located in the Egyptian Western Desert, has started. The current production through two wells stands at around 5,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD) and is expected to reach 7,000 BOPD in September. More exploration wells are now planned to be drilled on the nearby prospects within the exploration area, ENI added.

Egypt is Africa’s largest oil producer outside of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the third-largest natural gas producer on the continent (following Algeria and Nigeria). Furthermore, the country has the sixth-largest proved oil reserves in the continent, over half of which are offshore. Although the North African nation is not a member of OPEC, it belongs to the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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