The first drilling campaign involves a total of 26 development wells. The gas production is expected to start in summer 2017.

The KL-39 development well, the first of the planned 26 wells, was spudded in end of January using KCA Deutag Rig T-211.

RWE Dea Production North Africa senior vice president Christoph Schlichter said: "We are delighted to reach this next stage in the project, after detailed preparation work with all partners over recent months.

"The expected reserves of the project will make a significant contribution to the growth of Dea’s gas production in the years to come. That’s why we are pleased that the project is in time for start of production in summer 2017."

About 21 of the 26 development wells will be drilled, completed and put on production until the first gas date whereas another five wells will be drilled and added to production thereafter.

The project’s production phase is scheduled for more than 25 years.

The Reggane Nord project involves the gas fields of Reggane, Azrafil Sud-Est, Kahlouche, Kahlouche Sud, Tiouliline and Sali.

The Groupement Reggane-Nord (GRN) consortium partners include RWE Dea AG, which holds 19.5% stake, Sonatrach with 40% stake, Repsol with 29.25% equity and Edison with 11.25% interest.