PetroVietnam subsidiary starts exploration of Sahara oil wells

A Vietnamese oil and gas explorer on Wednesday began exploiting oil from the first of the four wells in a rig operated by a joint venture between it and Algerian and Thai partners in the Sahara Desert in Algeria.

Flames can now be seen shooting from the oil platforms in the Sahara Desert, as production started at 10:45 am local time, the PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEP) announced on Thursday.

PVEP is the oil exploration unit of the state-run Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group, commonly known as PetroVietnam.

The oil rig is now exploring around 2,000 barrels of oil a day from the BRS-6bis well, during a trial basis to test its oil well system, pumping station and the central processing facility, according to PVEP.

The well belong to the 433a-416b lot of the Bir Seba (BRS) oil exploration project, jointly run by PVEP in a venture with Algeria’s SONATRACH and Thailand’s PTTEP.

The Vietnamese firm holds a 40 percent stake in the consortium, called Groupment Bir Seba (GBRS), whereas the respective shares of the Algerian and Thai partners are 25 percent and 35 percent.

In the coming weeks, the GBRS will also start exploiting the remaining three oil wells, namely BRS-9, BRS12 and BRS14, to increase the capacity to 20,000 barrels a day, according to PVEP.

As the project enters its second phase in 2019, it will produce around 40,000 barrels on a daily basis.

The Sahara oil rig is the first-ever overseas project in which PVEP and PetroVietnam have succeeded in all phases, from winning the international bid to starting exploration, the company said.

“PVEP has defied the harsh weather and desert climate to successfully exploit the first oil flow from the Algeria project, which proves its bravery and competence,” the company proudly said.

Extending over 9 million square kilometers, the Sahara is the largest desert on the African continent, covering large parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia.