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TUNISIA - Ashtart - OMV Succeeding Preussag.

Found in 1971 by Elf Hydrocarbures Tunisie, Ashtart is Tunisia's first offshore field, located in the Gulf of Gabes 80 km south-east of Sfax. The discovery occurred at the same time as the coastal field Sidi el-Itayem was found by Total. Now the operator is OMV of Austria, which in June 2003 acquired the international E&P assets of Preussag of Germany including Ashtart and other blocks in Tunisia. Now OMV's production of oil and gas in Tunisia averages about 8,000 b/d.

Operators at Ashtart have changed hands four times since mid-1997, when Elf sold its Tunisian assets to Atlantic Richfield (Arco) of the US, which in 1999 was acquired by BP. These included Elf's 50% interest in Ashtart, then the second largest oilfield in Tunisia next to el-Borma, and shares in several blocks. Later Preussag acquired Ashtart and other assets.

In late March 2006, OMV made an oil and gas discovery in its 1,992 sq km Jenein Sud concession, 700 km south of Tunis. The first well, Warda-1, successfully tested gas and oil. The well was spudded on Dec. 27 and encountered several oil and gas bearing zones. During initial testing the well produced gas at a stable rate of 1,625 b/d of oil equivalent (oe) of gas and 1,500 b/d of 54[degrees] API oil. The well was subsequently completed and suspended for further evaluation. The rig was moved to drill a second exploration well in the Jenein Sud block. Each of OMV and ETAP holds 50% in this concession.

Helmut Langanger, OMV executive board member responsible for E&P on March 30 was quoted as saying: "Our Warda-1 discovery in the Jenein Sud concession is a success and an important step towards further growing our business in Tunisia, an important part of our North African E&P core region. OMV plans to further advance exploration in this country". OMV first became active in Tunisia in the early 1970s. Membership in the group which discovered Halk el-Menzel was OMV's first ever foreign joint venture. The Preussag acquisition in 2003 brought OMV back to Tunisia by giving it control of seven producing oilfields in the south-east of the country. The most prolific of these is the Ashtart field.

Ashtart has been in decline and now is producing about 6,500 b/d of sour 29.8[degrees] API oil, down from 11,000 b/d when OMV's acquisition took place, about 14,000 b/d in 2002, 18,000 b/d in the first half of 1997, 19,000 b/d in the second half of 1996 and 20,000 b/d in early 1996.

Ashtart's output in 1995 averaged 17,650 b/d, compared to 19,500 b/d in 1994, 23,000 b/d in 1993, over 26,000 b/d in 1990 and 30,000 b/d in 1987. It has more than 35 wells at a depth of 10,500 feet and five production platforms. It went on stream in December 1973 after difficult development work because of the oil's high sulphur content. Elf and ETAP decided in 1984 to launch a $100m project to develop Ashtart so that output could be stepped up from 18,000 to 30,000 b/d, and be maintained at that level for at least four or five years.

In 1992 a $210m gas injection programme was launched to stabilise the output of Ashtart at more than 20,000 b/d from 1996 to 2002. But the field began to decline in the second half of 1996. The programme included installation of a fifth production platform, the drilling of 12 additional wells and two water injection wells. Work on this, involving mostly French contractors, was completed in early 1996 (see background in Vol. 58, OMT 18).
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Publication:APS Review Oil Market Trends
Date:Apr 10, 2006
Previous Article:TUNISIA - Part 2 - Profiles Of The Oil & Gas Fields.
Next Article:TUNISIA - Sidi Kilani & KUFPEC Operations.

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