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BP starts up additional West Nile Delta gas fields

London — BP said Monday it had started production from the second stage of Egypt's West Nile Delta gas project, helping underpin the country's resurgent LNG exports.

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The Giza and Fayoum fields, around 75 km offshore from the port of Alexandria, were producing 400 MMcf/d of gas, and should reach 700 MMcf/d, BP said.

Speaking at a conference in Cairo, Egyptian petroleum minister Tarek El-Molla said the 700 MMcf/d level should be reached in April.

He also said output from the giant Zohr gas field, which has brought a step change in the country's production, should reach 3 Bcf/d this year.

All the gas from West Nile Delta will supply the domestic market via the country's gas grid, helping free up other capacity for export.

Molla noted Egypt had achieved "self-sufficiency" in gas last September.

The first stage of West Nile Delta, comprising the Libra and Taurus fields, came on stream in 2017, and the final stage currently planned, the Raven field, is due on stream later this year, although BP says it believes there are further resources in the vicinity.

BP chief executive Bob Dudley, also speaking at the EGYPS petroleum conference in Cairo, said his company had invested more in Egypt than in any other country in the last two years. "We have great faith in Egypt and the reforms that are being made," Dudley told the event.

West Nile Delta production is expected to reach 1.4 Bcf/d, equivalent to 20% of current Egyptian gas production, once all stages are fully up and running.

BP also brought on stream the Atoll Phase 1 project last year, with production currently running at 350 MMcf/d. A fourth well to be drilled at the project this year will help underpin production levels, BP said.

BP holds an 82.75% stake in the West Nile Delta project, with the remainder held by upstream company DEA.

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BOOST FOR LNG EXPORTS

Meeting domestic gas requirements has been a crucial precondition for Egypt's recent resumption of exports from Idku, on the Mediterranean coast.

The country has increased shipments from Idku since October from about 100 million cu m/month to 300 million cu m/month.

Israel is also set to begin gas sales to Egypt in 2019, with its additional output coming from Tamar and Leviathan fields, potentially giving Egypt the option to export additional LNG from one of its terminals.

Together with Egypt's other export terminal, Damietta, Egypt could export around 17 Bcm of gas per year, meaning it has massive spare export capacity at present.

Meanwhile, Jordan has plans to decrease its LNG imports and to increase pipeline nominations from Egypt and Israel.

Speaking at the same event in Cairo, Massimo Mantovani, chief officer for Gas and LNG Marketing at Italy's Eni, said there was "strong interest" in resuming LNG exports from Damietta, and work was underway on the issue, but there was as yet no date for a resumption. Eni holds a 40% stake in the SEGAS company that operates Damietta. Mantovani voiced confidence that Egypt would remain the lowest cost provider of liquefaction capacity in the Eastern Mediterranean, although he did not rule out that other countries building their own capacity.

"There is a strong interest from all involved parties in having Damietta start as soon as possible," Mantovani told journalists. "That requires commercial agreement which is under discussion. It depends on time and discussion."

He added Israel could develop its own liquefaction capacity. However, "Whether it's going to be cheaper I have strong doubts," he said. "Liquefaction costs around the world now are quite high. I think Egypt is in a very good position for that."

-- Nick Coleman, nick.coleman@spglobal.com

-- with Lucie Roux, lucie.roux@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Shashwat Pradhan, newsdesk@spglobal.com