Italian energy giant Eni has made a world class supergiant gas discovery at its Zohr Prospect, in the deep waters of Egypt. The discovery could hold a potential of 30 trillion cubic feet of lean gas¹ in place, the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea. The massive find may in time provide a major stimulus for natural gas as a transportation fuel nationally, and possibly regionally.
Eni says it will immediately appraise the field with the aim of accelerating a fast track development of the discovery located in the economic waters of Egypt’s Offshore Mediterranean, in 4,757 feet of water depth (1,450 metres), in the Shorouk Block. The company expects this exploration success will majorly contribute to satisfying Egypt’s natural gas demand for decades to come. Drilling is likely to commence in 2016 with production following within a couple of years.
The Zohr discovery will likely add significant impetus to Egypt’s natural gas for transportation fuel sector, which is experiencing new growth following recent decisions by the government to import gas. Egypt’s Daily News reports there are now 214,000 vehicles using natural gas fuel in the country (May 2015), an increase of 15% since July 2011. 179 supply stations and 72 conversion centres are also in place according to Minister of Petroleum Sherif Ismail.
The news source also reports the government’s Fund for Social Development has commenced it’s 18th round of assisted loans for conversion of vehicles to natural gas. To date, the fund has enabled approximately 17,400 vehicle conversions to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).
And most recently, Cairo’s public transport authority is importing 289 environmentally-friendly natural gas buses from LAZ (‘L’vivs’ky Avtobusnyi Zavod’), one of the biggest bus manufacturers of the former Soviet Union.
Furthermore, the Mediterranean is under consideration for being declared an emission controlled area (ECA) such as that now in place for the Baltic Sea and North Sea, and there is already TEN-T funded LNG marine fuel projects in place for the eastern Mediterranean.
¹Lean gas is defined by Schlumberger as “natural gas that contains a few or no liquefiable liquid hydrocarbons”.