United Arab Emirates-based Dana Gas said it planned to step up drilling in Egypt this year, aiming to double its natural gas reserves in the country.

Sharjah-based Dana Gas, which relies on Egypt for the bulk of its income, said it planned to spend more than $170 million drilling 19 new wells in Egypt before the end of the year, compared with 10 wells with investments of $56 million in 2007.

Egypt holds Africa’s third-largest natural gas reserves after Algeria and Nigeria.
“The gas sector in Egypt is expanding rapidly,” Dana Gas Egypt country director Hany Elsharkawi said in a statement, Reuters reported.
“This exploration and development programme could potentially double the size of our reserves,” he said, without giving further details.

The Abu Dhabi-listed company would develop 15 exploration wells and four development wells at the Komombo concession in Upper Egypt and two concessions in the Nile Delta, it said.
Five of the wells at the Sidi Salem Formation would target depths of 4000 metres, Dana said.

Dana said in January it planned to invest about $500 million in Egypt and Iraq’s Kurdish region this year to boost natural gas output.

The company posted a near 15% rise in fourth-quarter revenue compared with the third quarter on higher production from its Egyptian gas operations and higher prices.

Dana Gas moved into the Egyptian upstream sector in November 2006 after its C$1.15 billion (US$1.13 billion) acquisition of Canada’s Centurion International.
Shares of Dana Gas, which have fallen more than 14% this month, fell as much as 4.3% before closing down 2.87% yesterday. Abu Dhabi’s benchmark index closed down 1.34%.

(Upstream Online)