On January 31, 2001, Rashid Petroleum Company (Rshpetco) achieved its first gas production form the Nile Delta region and since then, the company has taken the lead of gas producers in Egypt in association with its two foreign partners BG and Petronas. “More than 35% of Egypt’s gas production is generated by Rashpetco,” expressed Taher Abdel Rahim, Operations Manager the role of his company in this vital industry

What were Rashpetco’s major achievements in the last two years?
Rashid Company is considered as the backbone of gas supplies in the local market, besides being a major gas exporter as well. We produce nearly 35%-40% of Egypt’s total gas production and in order to maintain this rate of production, we do implement major production since the company establishment, such as the development project of the fourth phase of West Delta Concession in deep water. This project included the drilling and completion of seven wells in deep water, which required sophisticated technology and high investments. Moreover, throughout the past two years, we developed the third phase of Rashid offshore field through the utilization of sub sea technologies and consisted of drilling and completing five wells and connected the production to the marine platform “Rashid-1”. Finally, we had a third main project, which is the development of Burullus field, which included the installation of two gas pressure units that decrease the level of pressures in 55 wells, which by its turn help increase production from these wells and maintain high production levels.
Currently, there is a number of projects in progress, some will be finalized by the end of this year, while others are scheduled to be completed next year.

Can you give us a brief about the projects in progress?
As known, most of the company’s production is generated from the deep water in West Delta area, through two production lines, 36 and 24 inches. Presently, we are installing a third line, 36 inches to be used by the end of this year. This $250-million line is extending from the internal wells to the treatment unit in Edku and it will help increase and maintain high levels of production.
Also, we have another project, which is the drilling and completion of nine wells of the eighth phase of developing the West Delta area, expected to be put on production line in October 2011.

Production off the Mediterranean Sea is costly. How do you get a profit despite the high expenses?
Profit gain is not our goal in the first place. We aim at maintaining our production levels through the implementation of more projects. As for revenues, this can be attained by many economic studies conducted by our foreign partners, BG and Petronas.

What is Rashpetco’s oil and gas production volume until now?
Our gas production stands at the rate of 2000 million cubic feet, generated collectively from Burullus and Rashid Fields, while our production of condensates counts for 12 thousand barrels per day (bpd). This year’s production budget is approximately $100 million.

Can you compare the current production to last year’s?
In 2009, we had a daily production of 2200 million cubic feet (mcf) of gas. Now, it is only 2000 mcf as mentioned earlier. This decrease is due to water found in some wells affecting the production rate. However, this problem will be solved by the third line of production we are implementing now that will restore our production rate.

What are the most important wells in terms of production volume?
Most of wells are considered main ones; some exceed the 100 mcf limit, which therefore decrease the number of drilled wells and the total cost. We do have 45 wells under sea level, 34 wells in West Delta and another 11 in Rashid fields.

What is your 2010 production plan?
We ought to maintain our production rate; 2000 mcf from West Delta and 400 mcf from Rashid fields.

Do you follow a specific strategy for oil and gas production?
Our production is controlled by the agreements signed with the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and nothing can be changed (no decrease or increase of the company’s production), or else supplies would be affected.

Recently, BP signed an agreement to sell all of its gas production from deep water to the ministry. Will Rashpetco imitate such a deal?
Foreign partners of Rashpetco did not change their way of dealing with the ministry due to the agreement already signed and there are no demands or plans to alter the terms of “production share” agreed upon between the two sides.

In the context of vigorous competition in the region, how can Egypt lure more foreign investments?
I believe that the officials at the Ministry of Petroleum do provide positive incentives that attract investors and create favorable environment for them. Hence, this result in boosting the number of projects and E&P operations held in the country and add more investments to the country’s treasury. As a proof, BG has not cancelled or postponed any of its projects despite the global economic crisis. It has continued its development project in the deep water of West Delta, phase 5 and 6 and currently implementing phase 7 and 8, which require huge funds.
It is worth mentioning that although some companies had to shut down their E&P operations in some countries, they have kept their projects in Egypt intact and held on schedule. This shows that Egypt enjoys economic stability, which is an indispensable factor for any investor.

Does agreements’ modification increase the volume of investments?
Definitely! As evidence, Statoil, Norway’s major company, has allocated large investments in the country, which reflects their confidence in the industry’s prosperities and potentials.

What are the obstacles hindering investors in Egypt?
I am not exaggerating when I say that there is none! I believe there is a kind of work harmony between the ministry of petroleum in one side and the foreign companies on the other side.

What are the challenges facing the petroleum sector?
The increasing local consumption of energy is the worst challenge facing the sector. There should be awareness campaign to efficiently utilize our energy sources or else there will be dramatic problem. Such campaigns are mandatory to solve such a problem because even if we increase our production level, there is an unparallel increasing rate of local demand.
Taking Kuwait as an example. Despite their huge energy production and low number of population, the government has adopted a campaign to decrease energy consumption.

Why does not the ministry adopt such awareness campaigns?
The petroleum sector is busy seeking high achievements of production and adding more value to the national economy. It does not know how to communicate through media channels. Such awareness campaigns should be organized by other specialized ministries, such as the Social Solidarity, Media and Electricity Ministries.

Are you planning to acquire new concessions?
For the foreign partner, only BG got the new concessions of Al-Borg and Manzala and according to plans, drilling operations will commence next year. According to the terms of agreement signed between BG and the ministry of petroleum, a joint venture will be constructed in case of achieving any discovery in both areas.

Is there any bid rounds to be released by Rashpetco?
Lately, we released a tender to rent a rig for our West Delta wells, eighth phase.

By Tamer Abdel Aziz

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