Tunisia - Miskar/Hasdrubal & British Gas Int'l Operations.
BGI had in 2007 begun development of Hasdrubal, another offshore field in the Gulf of Gabes where the British gas major - now part of Shell - made a big find in the summer of 2005, with production begun in the first half of 2009. But the output has fallen sharply.
While BGI holds 100% in the Miskar field and its satellites, it has a 50-50 JV with ETAP for the Hasdrubal field and related facilities.
Hasdrubal, in water depth of 62 metres, has the capacity to produce up to 150 MCF/d. Its onshore gas processing plant is 106 km from Sfax. Its propane output is exported and the butane is used locally and purchased by STEG.
Consafe Engineering Services of Aberdeen in May 2008 began the initial stages of delivery of new accommodation projects for BGI's Miskar-B platform. The Miskar facility consists of a four-level 24-man additional living quarters, made up of 22 modules. These comprise two- and four-man cabins with wet units and office accommodation.
The initial stage involved some detailed logistics and movement of man-power as Consafe under-took the offshore installation. It used some of its highly experienced Aberdeen labour force in the process.
The end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008 had seen Consafe conducting a recruitment drive for engineering personnel, the likes of which it had not been required for a number of years.
In mid-2007, BGI announced plans to invest about $1.3bn in the company's Tunisian operations. This sum was to be divided between its two gas fields Miskar and its satellites and Hasdrubal, with $500m allocated to the first and $800m to the second. These figures related only to BGI's share of spending.
In the case of Miskar, which had been in production since June 1996, the objective was to prolong the plateau rate of production. To extend peak production at Miskar, whose gas is sold to STEG, BGI had committed to drill six infill wells, three of them in 2006-07 and the other three in 2008-09.
The aim was to raise Miskar's output capacity from 2009 to 240 MCF/d and to stabilise this for many years. But eventually, Miskar was able to produce 270 MCF/d by 2016. Miskar also produced about 7,000 b/d of condensate, up from 6,000 b/d in 2008.
As regards the Hasdrubal gas/condensate field, BG's development plan was approved in June 2006. The field is in the Amilcar block. Its development had cost $1.2bn.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) in March 2010 agreed to give ETAP $150m in a five-year loan to finance the construction of a stand-alone gas, condensate and oil production system for Hasdrubal some 100 km off the Tunisian coast.
Hasdrubal's development has involved a multi-phase pipeline to onshore processing facilities next to BGI's Hannibal plant. An out-lay has also been allocated for Hannibal field, which is a satellite to Miskar. BGI has built new processing facilities and a 60-km condensate pipeline to La Skhira.
Petrofac in September 2005 was given a contract to do the front-end engineering and design (FEED) work for the development of Hasdrubal. With conceptual and pre-FEED work for the offshore and onshore facilities already completed by Petrofac, the plan was to develop the field with a normally un-manned installation and onshore facilities.
Once in operation, Hasdrubal's onshore facilities in 2009 began sending sales gas to the Tunisian grid and condensate to a storage facility along the coast at La Skhira.
Tunis in September 2007 began talks with BGI and Algerian state energy company Sonatrach for future plans to export 4 MCM/d of Tunisian gas through the TransMed pipeline to Sicily. Tunisia had been a net importer of natural gas through TansMed, which exports Algerian gas to Sicily via Tunisia.
In early September 2007, the then CEO of the state's refining company STIR, Ali Labiadh, was quoted as saying: "Recent prospection activity will put us in a position where we can look at the possibility of exporting some gas. We have to negotiate with BGI and Sonatrach". He said talks were just starting". The capacity of the Tunisian section of TransMed pipeline was then being expanded 16% to 33.500 MCM/y. But now, Tunisian demand excludes the possibility of Tunisia becoming a gas exporter.
Production from Miskar began in June 1996. Gas from the field is processed at the Hannibal plant, 21 km south of Sfax, and sold into the Tunisian gas system. BGI has a gas sales contract with STEG, which gives the group the right to supply up to 230 MCF/d on a long-term basis. On Feb. 24, 2004, BGI sent to STEG a record of 216 MCF/d and produced over 5,550 b/d of condensate. The 230 MCF/d volume was reached in 2008.
BGI is operator and joint permit holder with ETAP (50%) of the Ulysse exploration permit, offshore Sfax in the Gulf of Gabes. BGI acquired a 900 sq km extension to the Ulysse permit in August 2004. Two commitment wells had been required to be drilled by 2008.
The BGI Background: British Gas came to Tunisia in late 1988 after taking over the international assets of Tenneco of the US. These have included Houston Oil and Minerals' Miskar and other fields in this country. British Gas (now BGI) in late 1996 became the largest holder of oil and gas E&P permits in Tunisia as it got the Ulysse block, with an area of 1,912 sq km. Miskar field is in BGI's 1,585 sq km Amilcar permit. Amilcar lies at a water depth of 60 metres. Amilcar and Ulysse are part of the gas-rich Pelagian Basin.
Miskar, found in 1975 by Elf, is the largest field of non-associated gas in Tunisia. It went on stream in May 1995, but the supply system was interrupted in mid-1995. Production and supplies were resumed in June 1996. The field's output is being supplied to STEG after treatment.
Miskar gas is of poor quality with a high content of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, having required expensive treatment and de-sulphurisation. This was why BGI was allowed to hold 100% in Miskar.
Miskar is located about 80 miles offshore. According to BGI in 2005, the field then contained 1.5 TCF of recoverable gas reserves. Small gas structures have been found near Miskar and developed as part of the field's production system.
BGI in October 2004 brought on stream a $160m compression unit which extended the plateau's life at the Hannibal system for ten years. In collaboration with the Tunisian government, BGI has installed new offshore compression equipment in order to expand the output of the Miskar field and its satellites.