Caspian Energy Journal Caspian European Club
Friday, 26 October 2018 10:30

New gas pipeline will be built towards the EU Featured

 Caspian Energy (CE): Could you please tell about the plans of the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines of Morocco on development of the upstream sector? What do you think about the potential of this sector?

Amina Benkhadra, General Director of the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines of Morocco (ONHYM): ONHYM is pursuing with determination its assessment strategy for the Moroccan hydrocarbon potential. This strategy is based on two fundamental axes: intensifying the hydrocarbon exploration in our country by acquiring new seismic data and drilling wells to test new play concepts in collaboration with our partners; strengthening the dynamics of the opening to the world market, and the development of partnerships, as an integral part of the policy of promotion of Morocco’s hydrocarbon resources.

Oil and gas industry experts and international companies operating in our country, agree that the Moroccan sedimentary basins have a rich and varied geology, and petroleum systems that are potentially favorable for hydrocarbon accumulation.

In onshore in the Rharb Basin, one of the areas of the first commercial discoveries in Morocco, SDX Energy has made several commercial gas discoveries since 2008. Due to solid infrastructures and local industrial demand, the small and shallow fields discovered to date have proved profitable.

Similarly, the Rif mountains folded belt in Northern Morocco was a hydrocarbon-producing province until the 1950’s. Exploration in the area is now concentrated on the deeper reservoirs and also moving to the almost completely unexplored area.

The Tendrara area represents a new spot for hydrocarbon exploration in Morocco (North- East of Morocco). Sound Energy has announced very encouraging results after a successful drilling campaign, and will start soon production.

The Essaouira onshore area is another producing basin for oil, gas and condensates with 7 oil and gas fields from the sixties.

At the opposite end of the country is the large, almost unexplored, Zag Bas Draa Basin, the westernmost extension of the prolific Paleozoic basins which extend right across North Africa. The basin extends over 95 000 km2 with very limited seismic coverage and only 25 wells, most of them are shallow, and all drilled between 1959 and 1964. With over 6 km of Paleozoic, including Silurian hot shale, Devonian and Carboniferous, this basin could well hold untapped potential.

Overall, the investment is not sufficient in relation to the extent of the available sedimentary basins, the current well density in Morocco remains very low with 0.04 wells per 100 000 Km², compared to the global average of 10 wells per 100 000 square kilometers. We are currently going through an important stage in terms of investment works in upstream exploration, and we must maintain these activities to be able to make new discoveries.

CE: What could you tell about the oil and gas potential of the Moroccan shelf?

Amina Benkhadra: Morocco is located at the triple junction where the African continent, the expanding Atlantic Ocean and the Alpine Collision Zone all meet, resulting in a diversified geology, with rocks spanning all geological ages.

Morocco is also in the direct vicinity of many recent discoveries in the Atlantic, source rocks of varying ages have been identified in the offshore, confirmed Mesozoic and Cenozoic sources include the Triassic, the Jurassic, Cretaceous and Tertiary which were encountered by the wells drilled in the offshore.

The Moroccan offshore basins extended over more than 300 000 кm² remain one of the least explored: only 42 wells have been drilled in the Atlantic margin since 1968. 27 wells were drilled pre‐2003 and 15 wells from 2004. In the Mediterranean Sea just 2 wells were drilled until now.

These wells have shown the presence of good source rocks and oil shows indicating a working petroleum system throughout the Moroccan Atlantic margin, where numerous play concepts have been identified in the upper slope, the shelf structures and deeper in the area.

The Tarfaya - Boujdour segment located south offshore Morocco has also active and viable petroleum systems of different ages from the Jurassic until the Tertiary. This is evident through the hydrocarbon shows encountered in the wells drilled in the basin, and from indications observed in the seismic data.

The newly acquired 2D and 3D seismic and recent advances in the understanding of resource development along the Atlantic margin continue to interest many operators.

CE: Which companies are the main partners of Morocco?

Amina Benkhadra: Currently, the number of our partners is 15, including majors. These companies are American, British, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Irish, Australian, Asian or multinational, and are operating on a total area of 146 914,21 km² including 28 onshore permits, 58 offshore permits, 1 reconnaissance license and 10 exploitation concessions.

CE: Do you plan to improve the investment climate and engage the Caspian countries in cooperation?

Amina Benkhadra: Morocco enjoys political stability, strong infrastructure and a strategic location, which are helping it to emerge as a regional manufacturing and export base for international companies. Morocco is committed to improving the business climate for foreign investors to attract more investment towards the world, and is actively encouraging and facilitating foreign investment, particularly in export sectors, through macro-economic policies, trade liberalization, investment incentives, and structural reforms.

The Kingdom has ratified 68 bilateral investment treaties for the promotion and protection of investments and 60 economic agreements that aim to eliminate the double taxation of income or gains with the United States and most EU nations. The Morocco Investment Charter has put in place a dirham convertibility system for foreign investors, and gives investors the freedom to transfer profits.

I am optimistic that Morocco is ready to engage the Caspian countries in cooperation in order to foster new prospects of common development.

CE: Cooperation with which Caspian countries is the most effective now for Morocco?

Amina Benkhadra: By all means, the Kingdom of Morocco is absolutely interested in doing business with Caspian countries. The potential of growth of cooperation between Morocco and Caspian countries is inexhaustible. Morocco enjoys a strong presence in Africa and the Caspian countries have the potential to become the hub for Europe and Asia, and a bridge connecting Russia with the Middle East. Morocco works to broaden cooperation with countries and transform partnership frameworks into real trade opportunities, growth and progress.

CE: There are about 40 ports in Morocco now. Do you plan to develop their LNG import capacity?

Amina Benkhadra: There is one LNG project at the port of Jorf Lasfar near El Jadida City (190 km south of Rabat). It consists of a terminal with regasification unit and 400 km of pipeline to deliver gas to power plants. It is 4.6 billion investment for annual capacity of 5bcm starting from 2026-2027.

 CE: What do you think about the prospect of laying a Trans-African Gas Pipeline from Nigeria to Spain and further to France?

Amina Benkhadra: This is not any more a prospect but a goal for Nigeria and Morocco. Indeed, NNPC of Nigeria and ONHYM, signed in May 2017, an agreement for performing the Feasibility Study and a FEED for a Gaz Pipeline between Nigeria and Morocco going through West African Countries.

This project, the result of the strategic vision of both His Majesty the King of Morocco and the President of Nigeria, is expected to be a catalyst of the economic development in the region, by helping accelerating the electrification of the countries crossed, supporting the industrialization of different sectors and improving the living conditions of the population.

The main conclusion of the Feasibility Study was that, this infrastructure, for helping being economically viable, should be sized for exporting gas to Europe through Spain.

Thus, countries crossed will get the opportunity of both this available infrastructure and this available gas, sized to meet the growing needs of Europe, in order for fulfilling their own needs either for importing or for exporting the quantity they need, and this at their own pace.


Thank you for the interview


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