Apache Corp plans to explore deeply buried rock formations, including shales, in Egypt’s Western Desert for oil and natural gas beginning later this year, the head of the company’s Egyptian unit said. Apache holds 74,000 acres in the East Bahariya field and believes a shale formation there holds between 700 million and 2.2 billion barrels of oil, said Thomas Voytovich, who heads Apache’s Egyptian business.
In recent years, Houston-based Apache and other independent producers have combined hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling to unleash vast flows of oil and natural gas from North American basins previously believed to be uneconomic to tap. Interest in cracking open similar oil- and gas-bearing rock formations around the world has heightened as global demand for fossil fuels increases.
Apache, which has begun drilling shale wells in Argentina, believes there are unconventional basins in Egypt that are analogous to those in North America. Apache’s results with such geology in North America have enticed Egyptian officials, who have signed off on a pair of shale-drilling operations, Mr. Voytovich said during the company’s annual investor meeting. ‘We have two wells planned to test the idea here later this year,’ Mr. Voytovich said. ‘It’s a step-change for us.’