BP begins drilling near Jordan-Iraq border

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A BP operated gas field. Photo - Adam Berry/Bloomberg

BP announced on Monday it last week began drilling work in the Risha natural gas field in eastern Jordan, near the border with Iraq, following the British oil giant’s two years of preparation and a “very successful 5,000 square km seismic acquisition programme in 2011.”

The London-based oil giant said the well is expected to take three to four months to complete, and that a number of international oil and gas service contractors as well as local firms are involved in the project.

Jordan, which unlike its neighbouring Gulf countries has limited hydrocarbon resources, hopes intensive exploration and drilling at Risha will lead to the discovery of extensive recoverable gas reserves, helping it cut dependence on oil imports. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Jordan imports 96% of the energy consumed in the country.

Risha, discovered in 1987, has so far not delivered encouraging exploration results.

Jordan gave BP up to four years in 2009 to spend at least $237 million to explore and evaluate the Risha block, which covers an area of 7,000 square km. Officials in Amman said BP would enter a second phase to invest billions of dollars in developing the field if the exploration leads to the discovery of large commercially viable reserves of natural gas.

BP said in a statement the seismic survey “was one of the largest ever acquired in the Middle East and one of the safest and highest-productivity surveys acquired in BP history”.

According to the government strategy, Risha gas field – which has a current modest daily output of about 18 million cubic feet – will produce 330 million cubic feet of gas per day by 2015.

Amman is spending the bulk of its budget to meet electricity demand in the country, which is growing by more than 7% per year thanks to fast growing population and rising industrial needs.

The country hopes to reduce its dependency on imported energy by 2035 by initiating nuclear and other renewable energy programmes.

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