Eni, Sonatrach strike gas at Algeria's Zemlet el Arbi
Eni has made a "significant" oil and associated gas find in the desert territory of Algeria's Berkine basin, the company announced on March 20.
The HDLE-1 discovery well in the Zemlet el Arbi concession encountered a 26-metre net pay structure in Tagi formation sandstones of the Triassic era. Eni said the sandstones exhibit "excellent petrophysical characteristics", having flowed 7,000 barrels of oil and 5mn ft3 of associated gas/day during testing.
Eni has 49% in Zemlet el Arbi through a joint venture with Algeria's Sonatrach, which owns the remaining 51%. Preliminary estimates suggest the hydrocarbon find could be around 140mn barrels of oil in place in size.
The Italian major has a further four appraisal wells scheduled in the country. HDLE-2 will be spudded in April 2022 to help Eni examine whether the Tagi prospect continues into the adjacent Sif Fatima 2 concession, operated by a 50-50 Eni-Sonatrach joint venture. Production could start in the final months of this year, with gas delivered to processing facilities at Bir Rebaa North some 15 km away.
In a March 18 conference call, Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said the company could channel more of its gas to Italy's European neighbours, supporting the bloc's efforts to phase out Russian gas imports by the end of this decade. Eni estimates it could provide as much as 14 trillion ft3 of additional gas supply to provide to Europe in the short to medium term. The majority of this gas is in Africa, where Eni is the biggest foreign hydrocarbon producer.
Eni is also the biggest international oil company in Algeria, with a net output of around 95,000 barrels of oil equivalent/day. It amended its pricing contract with Sonatrach for gas transported through the Transmed pipeline in June 2021, and is understood to be seeking to acquire BP's stakes in the In Salah and In Amenas developments.
The latest Berkine appraisals fulfil a contract it signed with Sonatrach on December 14. The deal was the first under Algeria's updated hydrocarbon law, enacted in 2019 to restore the favourable investment climate that sparked multiple hydrocarbon discoveries in the 1980s.