Dana to seek gas offshore Sharjah

Dana Gas is moving ahead with plans for gas exploration and offshore production in Sharjah.

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Dana Gas will go ahead with plans for gas exploration and production offshore from Sharjah, where it expects to spend US$135 million (Dh495.92m) on its first upstream energy project in its home country. The project will include extensive work to bring the Zora gasfield into production, five years after similar plans were abandoned. "We are in the process of placing orders for the equipment and materials necessary for the pipeline and production facilities, and are currently involved in negotiations with three major offshore rig contractors," said Ahmed Rashid al Arbeed, an executive director of Dana. The Sharjah-based company said it planned to re-enter and complete two test wells originally drilled by its biggest shareholder, Crescent Petroleum, which discovered the Zora field in 1979. Dana said it would also install an offshore platform for gas production and processing, and build a 25km undersea pipeline to bring the gas ashore. It said it was in the final stages of selecting a construction yard for the platform, and had hired reservoir specialists to advise on the gasfield's potential and how it could best be exploited. The Zora field, located 35km offshore in Gulf waters shared by Sharjah and Ajman, is estimated to contain 317 billion cubic feet of recoverable gas reserves. Crescent and Atlantis Holdings, a Norwegian firm, had originally agreed to develop the field, with production scheduled to start in 2003. But the acquisition that year of Atlantis by the Chinese company, Sinochem, derailed the plan. Last March, the Sharjah Government awarded Dana a 25-year concession for the emirate's western offshore area covering more than 1,000 square kilometres, giving the company a 50 per cent interest in the project. In addition to developing the Zora field, Dana agreed to undertake exploration work in the concession area, including geological evaluation studies, seismic surveys and the drilling of exploration wells. Yesterday, it said it had budgeted $70m to develop Zora. It estimated costs for exploration and work on one well at a further $65m, starting next year. To date, Dana has derived all its revenue from oil and gas operations in Egypt, where it made several discoveries last year. The company is also developing a gasfield in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq and is a partner with Crescent in a long-delayed project to import Iranian gas to the UAE. tcarlisle@thenational.ae