Mena gas wealth to last over 30 years

Gulf oil heavyweights and other hydrocarbon producers in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) have around 88 trillion cubic metres (tcm) of proven natural gas deposits which can last more than 30 years at current production growth rates.

While the gas reserves in some Mena countries is far higher in the presence of undiscoverable resources, the gas wealth in other Mena areas is depleting in the absence of new discoveries against a rapid rise in domestic demand.

According to the Saudi-based Arab Petroleum Investment Corp (Apicorp), an affiliate of the 10-nation Organization of Arab petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), the undiscoverable gas deposits in the region are estimated at 26.6 tcm.

The proven reserves account for nearly 42 per cent of the world’s total gas wealth and most of them are based in the UAE, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

“For a production growth of 6.9 per cent a year, which corresponds to the last 10‐year average, future volumes from remaining reserves would last 33 years….this is just above the conventional 30‐year time horizon for strategic planning in the field of exploration and development (E&D),” Apicorp’s senior consultant Ali Aissaoui said in a five-page study sent to Emirates 24/7.

“Our findings confirm and extend our previous results showing that on aggregate Mena proved reserves are substantial and their combined dynamic life is a little beyond the traditional 30‐year strategic planning horizon for E&D.”

But Aissaoui warned that reserve depletion in more than half the countries listed in the study has critically neared ‐ if not already reached ‐ the point that warrants drastic actions to curb demand and support a supply response.

He said the opportunities for the latter will be driven by a vast potential for reserve expansion, adding that on a country-by‐country basis, the potential appears to be the greatest in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, followed by Iraq, the UAE and Algeria. Prospects also seem favorable in Egypt, Oman and Libya, he said.

“As the opportunities available will be increased by unconventional gas, they will entail significant challenges…confronting the region’s natural gas paradox ‐ a paradox of scarcity amidst plenty – requires both a demand and supply response,” he said.

“As far as the supply side is concerned, Mena policy makers need to rethink critically their E&D policies and the corresponding economic incentives.”

Aissaoui’s figures showed Iran had around 33.1 tcm of recoverable gas deposits at the start of 2012 while they were estimated at 25 tcm in Qatar, 8.2 tcm in Saudi Arabia, 6.1 tcm in the UAE, 4.5 tcm in Algeria, 3.6 tcm in Iraq, 2.2 tcm in Egypt, 1.8 tcm in Kuwait, 1.5 tcm in Libya and around 0.9 tcm in Oman.

Undiscovered deposits were put at 12.8 tcm in Saudi Arabia, 5.9 tcm in Iran, 0/92 tcm in Algeria, 0.81 tcm in the UAE, 0.77 tcm in Qatar, 0.63 tcm in Oman, around 0.39 tcm in Libya and 0.38 tcm in Egypt.


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