Pilot production at Egypt’s Eni SpA-operated Zohr natural gas field will begin “in the coming few days,” the oil ministry said, as the country nears its goal of commercial output from the biggest gas discovery in the Mediterranean Sea by the end of this year.
Gas is being pumped from the national distribution system to test pipelines in preparation for output from the offshore field, Oil Minister Tarek El-Molla said Sunday in an emailed statement. Production will start before year-end at about 350 MMcfd, he said. Output will rise to some 1 Bcfd by mid-2018 and reach 2.7 billion by the end of 2019, the ministry said Dec. 1 by email.
Zohr marks a turning point that would spell an end to the tenders that suppliers from Glencore Plc to Trafigura PTE Ltd. have won in past years. Once it starts producing, the field will help end Egypt’s reliance on imported liquefied natural gas next year and may eventually enable the North African nation to export gas, El-Molla said last month in an interview.
Gas from Zohr will also help ease pressure on the economy of the most populous Arab nation, which has been plagued by a shortage of foreign currency since a 2011 uprising. Zohr, which Eni discovered in August 2015, has an estimated reserve of about 850 Bcm of natural gas in place.