The British Petroleum (BP) Company issued a press release on Tuesday announcing their drilling of a new offshore gas well in the Mediterranean Sea, dubbed Atoll-1, several kilometers north of the Nile Delta city of Damietta.
BP’s North Africa Division claims that the preparatory stages for drilling commenced on September 14, while the actual drilling began Tuesday. They say the process is expected to last until next summer.
The name “Atoll-1” was chosen for this new well, as the drilling site is said to be based in a ring-shaped coral reef resembling an atoll.
President of BP’s North Africa Division, Hesham Mekawy, said “The significant investment in Atoll-1 is another great example that demonstrates our commitment to meeting Egypt’s energy needs by exploring the deep offshore potential of the Nile Delta, which we believe to be a world class gas basin that requires substantial investments to unlock its potential.”
The multinational reports that its sixth generation rig, the “Maersk Discoverer,” is being used for the Atoll-1 site, which is at a water depth of just under one kilometer, while the actual drilling process may reach another 7.4 kilometers into the seabed.
Atoll-1 is BP’s second gas well in Damietta’s offshore basin within less than two years. The first to be drilled in this basin was the Salamat-1 Gas Well in 2013.
BP is one of several international petroleum companies that have signed new deals with the Egyptian state for exploration and extraction. In September alone, these deals amounted to over $US187 million.
They include an agreement, estimated at more than $US44 million, with the US-based Apache Company for gas exploration in Egypt’s western desert, along with further multi-million dollar contracts with the Italy-based ENI Company, for both offshore and land drilling, amongst other contracts.
The state has been desperately seeking to augment its fuel supplies to cover the nation’s energy deficit and decrease daily electricity-outages affecting industries, services and homes nationwide.
According to Egypt’s former Minister of Petroleum, Sherif Ismail (who was in office from October 2013 to September 2014), a total of 35 deals were signed for the drilling of some 150 wells.
Investment in all of these drilling projects is estimated at more than $US2 billion.
According to statements issued by the Petroleum Ministry, BP may be expected to invest several billions more in exploration and extraction over the next few years.