Shell has appointed a new Vice President & Country Chairman, ENG. GASSER HANTER, who has returned to
his home country in December 2016, after an exciting journey with Shell in the Middle East and North Africa
(MENA) region and Europe, to run Shell companies in Egypt. In an exclusive interview with Egypt Oil&Gas, Eng.
Hanter has shared his vision for the company and convincingly confirmed its long-term commitment to Egypt,
with a determination to support the country’s vision to become a regional energy hub.
Relocating to Cairo with his extensive experience from other MENA countries, Eng. Hanter is bringing in fresh views on how to enhance Shell’s role in Egypt, as he added: “I had a very unique experience in Iraq between 2008 and 2014 where I was overseeing different Shell businesses as Country Chairman for Shell, and also as Managing Director for Basrah Gas Company (BGC). We [Shell] see a lot of potential in Egypt’s energy industry, including the possibility for the country to become a regional gas hub through its strategic location and its state-of-the-art infrastructure,” Shell’s Chairman stressed.
With a series of recently adopted economic measures, the Egyptian government has been successfully attracting foreign investors. Shell’s new Country Chairman intends to use the opportunity to demonstrate Shell’s track record as a reliable partner for Egypt. “We are quite encouraged by the pace and progress of the economic program by the Egyptian government that has significantly shifted investors’ sentiment towards Egypt and its oil industry.” Having been active in Egypt for more than 100 years, he confirmed that Shell is committed to the country for the long-term.
It comes as no surprise that the company has no smaller ambition than “to become Egypt’s partner for the future,” as Eng. Hanter put it. This seems as a realistic projection given Shell’s operational and technological capacity that is supported by its global portfolio across the energy value chain.
Shell as a Leading Player
To date Shell has invested significantly – billions of dollars – in Egypt and is well-placed to contribute to the government’s new strategy along the modernization program. “We have built up a thorough understanding of Egypt’s onshore, offshore resources, and the supply needs of the country,” said Eng. Hanter.
Building upon remarkable achievements of 2016, most notably as a result of the acquisition of BG that has expanded Shell’s operations in Egypt, “we are quite keen on becoming a leading player in both the onshore and offshore oil and gas industry,” said Shell’s Chairman. He highlighted that the combination with BG has extended Shell’s investment position in Egypt, which necessarily brought Shell back to the Mediterranean offshore operations; an area where the company has extensive experience in.
An Expanded Footprint
Eng. Hanter is thus confident of Shell’s future prospects. Shell now has a material footprint in Egypt producing a significant percentage of the country’s oil and gas, being one of the two biggest operators in the Western Desert, and representing roughly around 25% of the country’s gas production at ~1.1 Bcf/d (100%), placing Shell amongst the top producers of offshore gas.
Shell operates in the country in partnership with its three joint-ventures – Badr Eldin Petroleum Company (Bapetco), Rashid Petroleum Company (Rashpetco), and Burullus Gas Company (Burullus) – providing continuous production and development activities. Indeed, Shell’s portfolio includes both onshore and offshore exploration and production activities in the Western Desert and the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, Shell is also a market leader in lubricants in Egypt, with a market share of around 19%.
Shell also has a major shareholding in the two-train (3.6 mt/y per train) Egyptian LNG (ELNG). “The trains are currently operational, but processing gas at a very low rate of a few cargos per annum”, noted Eng. Hanter. Furthermore, “we are an active player in the Eastern Mediterranean region with our Aphrodite position in Cyprus and ELNG infrastructure,” Shell Chairman added. Shell’s comprehensive gas business in the country relies on an extensive network of subsea infrastructure, hundreds of kilometers of pipelines extension on the seabed, onshore gas processing facilities and an LNG plant, which Eng. Hanter describes as “one of the most comprehensive infrastructure grids in the Mediterranean Sea.”
Shell’s commitment to Egypt was further boosted with the government’s recently unveiled modernization program. “A key indicator of the successful roll out of the [modernization] program is allowing for an open dialogue with key energy players in the country, which aims at placing Egypt as a global oil and gas hub, encouraging Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and promoting economic growth,” Eng. Hanter stressed.
*Eng. Hanter will be joining H.E. Eng. Tarek El-Molla, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources at a panel discussion about the sector’s vision for the 2021 modernization program, which is taking place at the Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS) 2017.
Unlocking Onshore & Offshore Potential
Shell Chairman is determined to capitalize on Shell’s recent wins in the Western Desert and further develop the existing concessions. “We have interest in nine onshore Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) with 22 production licenses and three exploration concessions,” Eng. Hanter asserted. “We will continue to increase our onshore production in 2017, currently at around 130,000 boe/d, drilling exploration wells within the exploration licenses of North East Obaiyed and North Matruh. Furthermore, we are entering into the second exploration phase for North Alam El Shawish.”
Eng. Hanter added that the recent gas discovery, BTE- 2, in Shell’s North Alam Al Shawish exploration concession, has preliminary identified volumes of around 0.5tcf of gas in place with further potential, making it one of the largest discoveries in the area in recent years, and the deepest well in the Western Desert. Overall, the well “has the potential to contribute to 10-15% of overall production of Bapetco, with drilling operations to continue to investigate the deeper Kharita sandstones beyond 6,000m depth in the concession area” and he added that “evaluation of hydrocarbon volumes will be conducted after drilling and well-testing are completed.”
In a similar vein, Shell’s further expansion of its onshore footprint is the recent award of the North Um-Baraka Block in the 2016 onshore bid round by the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC). Building on more than 30 years of expertise in the Western Desert area and an outstanding track record in exploration with a success rate of more than 80%, Shell has “ambitious plans for the exploration drilling and quick production ramp-up for our expected discoveries, where we will be using new technology such as high resolution 3D seismic surveys to explore for new targets,” noted Eng. Hanter. He added that any discovery will be tied-in quickly into the Shell-operated Obaiyed facilities to further boost production from this area.
With regards to offshore, Shell has interest in two operated non-producing concessions, in addition to two operated gas-producing concessions; Rosetta and the West Delta Deep Marine (WDDM). “Currently, gas production and processing continues from WDDM and Rosetta, where these areas have proven to be prolific and rich in the past. In the coming period, Shell has an ambitious development program for offshore,” emphasized Eng. Hanter.
‘Goal Zero’ is Possible
There is no value in having a business when safety is not factored in as the main – and the first – success criterion. ‘Goal Zero’ means achieving ‘zero serious injuries’ over a prolonged period, year after year.
Shell celebrated achieving a safety record of 8.5 million man-hours Lost Time Injury (LTI) free with its joint-venture with the EGPC, Bapetco. Eng. Hanter also asserted that Shell’s world-class ELNG plant “has recently been awarded the 2016 RoSPA Gold Medal for Occupational Health and Safety. This is ELNG’s 8thconsecutive gold award.”
Safety Day in Shell is a real celebration. “It is a celebration of the lives that we can and have saved through our care for each other,” confirmed Eng. Hanter. He stressed that following Shell’s 12 Life-Saving Rules is mandatory for anyone who works for Shell. “We take this very seriously at Shell; the message we send out to staff and contractor partners alike is simple: ‘if you choose to break the rules, you choose not to work for Shell’,” added Eng. Hanter. Building on Shell’s long standing Safety Day, Shell was a key participant and supporter of the industry’s First Annual Upstream Oil & Gas Safety Day, organized last October by the EGPC.
Investing in People Development
Shell Egypt takes its social investment projects seriously; developing a number of social and community-related programs that focus on Small and Medium Enterprise development through the company’s flagship program, Shell Intilaaqah Egypt, which has been running for 12 years, providing entrepreneurship training for around 9,000 youth in 14 Egyptian governorates, including Matruh. Shell is currently revamping this program to include more candidates to be more linked to the company’s supply chain for a more sustainable business.
Another key focus area for Shell is combining human capital development with energy efficiency through the Shell Eco-Marathon (SEM); an annual global Shell competition held for university students, who design and build a fuel efficient car. The car, which travels the furthest distance on one liter of fuel is the winner. Eng. Hanter added “this year marks the fourth participation from Egypt with seven teams flying to Singapore in March to participate in the SEM Competition. One of the cars participating in the SEM in Singapore is showing at the Shell stand at the EGYPS.”
In addition, in line with Shell’s core belief in safety as a top priority, Shell has been running a road safety program for the past ten years, providing defensive driving awareness sessions to over 1,000 school bus drivers in Egypt.
In a related note, Shell invests in its peoples by providing them with leadership development and continuous improvement programs. “Today, I am proud to say that we have 80 Egyptians located in various Shell offices around the globe,” concluded Eng. Hanter.