ECONOMY

Greek Energean eyes Tunisian, Moroccan oil

Energean Oil and Gas, Greece’s only petrol exploration company, plans to boost its international presence in 2011 by entering Morocco or Tunisia, its chairman said on Saturday. Mathios Rigas, chairman of Energean, which also drills for natural gas, said the company is entering an international tender process or direct talks with the two governments on securing exploration rights in the respective regions after recently expanding into Egypt. «By the end of 2011 we are looking at expanding further abroad… in either Morocco or Tunisia,» he told Kathimerini English Edition. Energean, which operates three offshore oil fields off Kavala, northern Greece, has secured exploration rights for two onshore areas in Egypt. The first one is the West Kom Ombo Block (WKO), located in the Nubian Desert in Upper Egypt, and the second one is the east Magawish area, at the southern end of the Gulf of Suez. The first exploratory drill in WKO will take place in «coming days,» with results expected in the next month, according to Rigas. Drilling in the Magawish area is scheduled to start in the first four months of 2011. The Greek company is upbeat about the chances of finding sufficient quantities of petrol that can be developed, but this could take some time. On nine out of every 10 occasions, exploratory drilling efforts end in failure, according to industry sources. Energean also plans to further explore opportunities in its Greek oil fields – called Prinos, Prinos North and Epsilon – which lie about 18 kilometers offshore as part of efforts to double production levels. «In seismic research we conducted in the (Kavala) region last year, we detected new targets,» said Rigas. A seismic study normally involves the use of strong low-frequency sound waves in the water to spot underground hydrocarbons. Energean intends to boost production to 5,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2011 from an average of about 2,000 to 3,000 bpd in 2010, encouraged by rising oil prices on global markets. Investment bank Goldman Sachs was cited by press reports over the weekend as saying that the price of oil in 2011 will rise to $100 per barrel, from $88 presently, due to the global economic recovery and a weak US dollar. Some 18 months ago, the price of oil was at about $60 per barrel. Energean’s five-year, $200-million investment plan, of which $20 million will be spent next year, aims at boosting sagging production levels by launching new searches for oil reserves in Greece. Company figures show that production last month dipped below the 2,000 bpd mark for the first time since July 2009. A few days ago, Energean brought to Greece a jack-up rig, which will help it locate untapped hydrocarbon reserves. The jack-up rig will cost the company about $85,000 per day and has an inital two-month lease period. [email protected]