FULL STREAM AHEAD

Sharjah 2015 | ENERGY & INDUSTRY | FOCUS: ZORA GAS FIELD

Sharjah-based Dana Gas is developing the Zora gas field, which should provide an additional source of gas for local power generation in the northern Emirates with an expected production capacity of 40 mmscfd (6,650 bpd) once on stream.

While Sharjah is located in a region with an abundance of hydrocarbons, the oil and gas sector in the Emirate only contributes 13% to GDP and 14% to total revenue, much less than that of regional peers, according to Moody's. Arguably the most interesting project in this relatively small sector is the development of the Zora gas field by Sharjah-based Dana Gas, which, once on-stream, should provide additional gas for local power generation in Sharjah and Ajman.

Located in the Sharjah Western Offshore Concession, which covers a total area of over 1000sqkm, the Zora gas field was discovered in 1979 when the Sharjah-1 well was drilled, which tested a maximum flow rate of 14 million cubic feet of gas per day. Subsequent drilling was performed in 1999, when the Sharjah-2 well tested a maximum flow rate of 40 million cubic feet of gas per day.

In order to capitalize on these successful drillings, Dana Gas and the government of Sharjah signed an agreement for the exploration and development of the Western Offshore Concession in 2008. The agreement stipulated that horizontal drilling of the original two wells, which were drilled by Crescent Petroleum, was to continue. After completion of the drilling work, the agreement held that a single unmanned offshore platform was to be constructed and put into place for immediate processing, production, and transportation of the processed gas through a 35km offshore pipeline for onshore processing in a gas processing facility in the Hamriyah Free Zone, and subsequent marketing within the United Arab Emirates.

However, due to financial constraints and delayed approval processes, Dana Gas struggled to start development on the Zora gas field, and it would take until 2013 for development to catch serious momentum, when Adyard Abu Dhabi was awarded a $17 million contract for the fabrication of the project's offshore platform. In 2014, development received an additional boost, when banks and financiers such as Emirates NBD expressed their confidence in the project by providing a $100 million term facility for the Zora field, which is contributing the debt component of the financing needed to complete the project and bring the Zora gas field on-stream.
Set to start producing up to 6,650 bpd halfway through 2015, drilling operations have begun in April 2015, as well as other civil works. The installation of the offshore pipeline and platform has been completed, while construction of the onshore gas processing facilities is currently underway, and first sales are on track for mid 2015.

After a relatively rocky start, the Zora gas field development now seems to be moving fast ahead. Production will start at a time when demand for gas is growing in the United Arab Emirates, creating a significant gap between domestic demand and domestic capacity, with the latter lagging behind. While the Zora gas field will most likely not be able to reverse this trend in any significant way as its production capacity is set at 6,650 bpd, it will at least go a long way in providing an additional source of gas for local power generation in the northern Emirates.