Eni-led JV gets extension to drill for gas in Rub al-Khali

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 6 -- EniRepSa Gas Ltd.—a joint venture of Eni SPA (50%), Repsol-YPF SA (30%), and Saudi Aramco (20%)—has been granted a 6-month extension to drill an exploration well for natural gas in Saudi Arabia’s Rub al-Khali Desert.

The consortium's license covers the 52,000 sq km Block C, where work has been carried out on a 5-year exploration program that included the acquisition of 5,000 km of seismic data and the drilling of four exploratory wells.

The EniRepSa partners have drilled three wells and were due to complete their final well by yearend 2010. Instead, the group asked for more time to reprocess some of their seismic.

EniRepSa is one of four JV projects that were approved by Aramco and the Saudi government in 2004 to explore for nonassociated gas in the Rub al-Khali.

The other JVs include Royal Dutch Shell PLC, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec), and OAO Lukoil. None of the four groups has yet to make a large discovery of gas.

However, the Shell venture, called the South Rub’ Al Khali Co (Srak), made what it calls “promising” discoveries, and said in October that it would start a second phase of exploration.

Srak extended its license by 5 years to 2015, and announced plans to drill three more exploration wells as well as to collect 3,600 km of 3D seismic data and 3,000 km of 2D data.

Srak also agreed to draw up a development plan for sour gas reserves that have been discovered at Kidan, close to the southern border of the UAE, and a possible extension of the Shah sour gas field being developed by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.

The Sino Saudi Gas (SSG) venture, despite finding no gas, also agreed to move to a second exploration phase, proposing to drill one further well during the next 3-year period. SSG is owned 80% by Sinopec and 20% by Aramco.

The Lukoil-Aramco Luksar JV, using Russia’s C1 and C2 classification, said it found 70 million tonnes of condensate and 300 billion cu m of gas in Block A's Mushaib-1 and Tukhman wells.

But the JV, 80% Lukoil and 20% Aramco, decided against undertaking a second exploration period, apparently on commercial grounds.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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