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SYRIA - Al Furat Petroleum Co. (AFPC).

The Al Furat Petroleum Co. (AFPC), operating the richest among Deir Ez Zor's blocks, is Syria's biggest oil producer. Al Furat was set up in May 1985 as follows: SPC, 50%; Pecten Syria Petroleum (of Shell/Houston), 15.625%; Royal Dutch/Shell, 15.625%; and Deminex (18.75%). The operator is Shell, working on behalf of its Houston-based subsidiary. By end-1999, Shell had a total of more than 65 oil and gas discoveries made since 1984, most of which having been developed, in the Deir Ez Zor (AFPC), Al Badiya (BOC) and Al Bishri (BPC) blocks (see Gas Market Trends). AFPC, BOC, and BPC have the same partners. Together they now produce about 340,000 b/d, down from 350,000 b/d in March 1998, compared to a peak of 405,000 b/d in 1994.

AFPC's fields produce light/low sulphur oils from Lower Cretaceous sands of the Rutbah formation, and to some extent from Euphrates and Jerribe limestones of the Miocene age, as in the case of Al Thayyem. The pre-Jurassic there appears to have limited prospectivity.

Under a five-year programme started in Jan. 1996 to manage the fall in oil production, the combined output of AFPC, BOC and BPC was set to decline by 10,000 b/d/year. Their production from more than 35 fields was targeted at 350,000 b/d for 2000. But this was reached in late 1997 as the decline was more rapid than Shell had expected. Yet, since early 1998 Shell has managed to slow down the fall. AFPC is to add about 60,000 b/d to its production steam in a project which has been delayed for years and will not be completed before 2001.

The following are AFPC's main fields:

Al Thayyem, AFPC's first discovery in 1984 and one of its biggest fields, lies on the Euphrates River near the town of Deir Ez Zor. Syrian experts claim its oil reserves in place are 1 bn barrels. Its installed capacity has been expanded to 100,000 b/d of 36.5 deg. API oil, although its actual production has been falling since 1991 and now averages about 45,000 b/d. Experts say the field reached its plateau in early 1991, when it was producing more than 82,000 b/d. In 1995 it produced at the average of 55,000 b/d, compared to 60,000 b/d in 1994. The field will need costly EOR installations in the coming years. It began producing 5,000 b/d in 1985 before it was fully developed. Initially the oil used to be trucked to Al Rasafa, 100 km away, and then fed into the pipeline running from Karatchok and Suwaidiyah to the Homs and Banias refineries. Its permanent production and processing facilities began operating in Sept. 1986. Its stream was tied to a central system at Al Ward field, together with other AFPC fields including Al Ahmar, Jido and Al Ashara. They were linked to a main export centre through a separate gathering system and pipeline, able to feed up to 100,000 b/d to the Homs and Banias refineries. A 92 km, 30-inch spur line was built to link the fields to the old IPC pipeline's T-2 pumping station. (The IPC pipeline, which linked Iraq's Kirkuk fields to Banias terminal, was nationalised by Damascus shortly after Baghdad took over the BP-led IPC in 1972). Another 70 km, 16-inch spur line was built from the Al Ward and Al Ashara fields to the T-2 station. Al Thayyem's capacity in September 1986 was about 60,000 b/d. This was raised to 100,000 b/d in 1988. A project to dispose of water in the field was awarded in 1996. The capacity of Jido and Al Ward fields in 1995 was raised from 10,000 to 25,000 b/d of 38.1 deg. oil.

The Omar/Omar North field, found in 1987, is larger than Al Thayyem. It was proven in March 1988 with 400m barrels of 40-41.5 deg. API oils in place. Syrian experts at the time hoped the oil in place could be as large as 1-1.5 bn barrels. The field was developed in a hurry and SPC, acting on orders from the political leadership, pressed Shell to build up its capacity to 120,000 b/d. In June 1988 Technoexport of Czechoslovakia and Salzgitter Lummus got a $90m contract to install production facilities. Work entailed building two crude oil gathering stations, each with a capacity of 60,000 b/d, and a 95-km, 24-inch pipeline linking the field to the main line to the Homs and Banias refineries and the old IPC pipeline.

Omar was inaugurated on Feb. 15, 1989, and production started at the rate of 55,000 b/d. Damascus, suffering from an acute shortage of foreign exchange, compelled Shell to step up production to 100,000 b/d by March 1, several months ahead of schedule and against Shell's advice. In April, reservoir pressure dropped and the field's output fell to 30,000 b/d. Later Shell established that the reservoir damage was extensive.

A water injection system was built to bring output to less than half of design capacity before end-1991. But Syria's sporadic rainfall pattern caused additional problems to this system, with Turkey reducing the flow of Euphrates waters because of its massive new dams. High rainfall in the Turkish hills filled the Euphrates River with silt in the area where the system drew water. The system, started up in January 1991, was shut down on March 26 after it operated during the three days of high water levels in

the Euphrates. Later it was established that the water for the scheme needed to be four times purer than mineral water. Then Shell decided to drill wells beside the river to help take full advantage of seasonal flow peaks, with the river bed to act as a filter. (One alternative proposed at the time to shut down at flood times was rejected by Damascus).

Two more water injection systems were built subsequently. A fourth injection unit was awarded in August 1996 to PetroFac International of the UK in a $92.8m contract. An 80 MW power plant and related facilities were contracted in October 1995. A contract for a fourth gas turbine to expand the power plant's capacity was awarded in late 1999. This will supply more electricity to AFPC and other companies operating in the Deir Ez Zor area.

Now Omar produces 15,000 b/d from natural pressure and 30,000 b/d from pressure induced by water injection, compared to a total of 16,400 b/d in early 1991 and 31,500 b/d in early 1992. For every two barrels of water injected, one barrel of oil is extracted. Water is injected at lower pressure and higher volume than in 1992/93. With further installations at the field being built, AFPC is hoping that Omar's output would exceed 70,000 b/d by late 2000 or early 2001.

Associated gas production/processing facilities at Omar, with a capacity of 4.3 MCM/day, started up in Nov. 1991. Their capacity was expanded in 1995 to 6.5 MCM//day by PetroFac Int'l, under a contract signed in 1994, so that the Omar system can also handle associated gas from BOC's Al Izba field. The Omar plant produces LPG, stabilised condensate and dry gas. The dry gas is being supplied by pipelines to the Tishreen power plant (south of Damascus, and the Mhardeh and the Jandar power stations near Homs.
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Comment:SYRIA - Al Furat Petroleum Co. (AFPC).
Publication:APS Review Oil Market Trends
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Mar 6, 2000
Previous Article:SYRIA - The SPC Fields.
Next Article:SYRIA - The Al Furat/BOC & BPC Background.

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