The Baltim South West offshore natural gas field is located in the Nile Delta, approximately 12km off the Egyptian coast. Photo: courtesy of D Thory from Pixabay.
The Baltim South West field is located 10km north of the Nooros field. Image courtesy of BP.
The Nile Delta holds significant natural gas reserves.

Baltim South West is a shallow-water natural gas field located in 25m-deep waters in the Nile Delta, approximately 12km off the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. It commenced production in September 2019.

The final investment decision (FID) on the Baltim South West project was reached in January 2018. The field was brought on stream within a record time of 19 months following the FID, making it one of the world’s fastest gas development projects.

The offshore gas field forms part of the Baltim South Development Lease, in which Eni’s subsidiary International Egyptian Oil Company (IEOC) and BP hold 50% stake each.

Petrobel, a joint venture between the state-owned Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and IEOC, is the operator on behalf of Medgas, another joint venture of Eni, BP and EGPC.

The initial gas production from the Baltim South West field is estimated to be 100 million cubic feet per day (Mcf/d), which is expected to be increased to 500Mcf/d after the drilling of all production wells in 2020.

Baltim South West location and gas reserves

The Baltim South West field lies in the Great Nooros area, a highly prospective gas production region estimated to hold up to three trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas reserves.

The Nooros field, which was discovered in July 2015 and brought on stream in May 2016,  lies roughly 10km north of the Baltim  South West field development.

The Nooros field produced  65,000 barrels of oil-equivalent per day (boed) at the time of commissioning, which was increased to 215,000boed in 2018.

Out of the total 3tcf recoverable gas reserves in the Great Nooros area, the Nooros field is estimated to contain approximately 2tcf of gas reserves,while the remaining 1tcf of gas volume is held by the Baltim South West field.

Discovery and appraisal

The Baltim South West field was discovered by Petrobel with the drilling of the Baltim South West 1X discovery well in June 2016.

Drilled up to  a depth of 3,750m, the Baltim South West 1X well encountered approximately 120m of gross gas column. It penetrated through 62m sand layers comprising Messinian age sandstones exhibiting excellent reservoir properties.

The discovery was followed by the drilling of the appraisal well Baltim South West 2X,in September 2016.

The Baltim South West 2X well encountered a total gas column of 102m out of which approximately 86m was found in two sandstone layers.Following appraisal, the Baltim South project’s gas potential was increased to 1tcf.

Baltim South West development details

The Baltim South West field is currently producing from the BSW1 production well. Five more production wells are planned to be drilled to increase the field’s total gas production to 500Mcf/d by 2020.

The Baltim South West field has been developed with a 2,400 tonnes (t) offshore production platform situated in 23m-deep waters.

The gas produced by the field is transported to the existing Abu Madi gas plant though a new 44km-long and 26in-diameter pipeline.

The gas and condensate production from the field is split between EGPC, Eni and BP, as per the concession agreement signed in 2016.

Natural gas market in Egypt

Egypt is the biggest oil and natural gas consumer in Africa. It is the fifth biggest oil producer after Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, and Libya, and the second biggest natural gas producer after Algeria, in the continent.

Egypt was estimated to contain 75.5tcf of natural gas in proved reserves by the end of 2018, which is the third biggest in Africa, after Nigeria and Algeria.

Natural gas accounts for approximately 70% of the country’s electricity production. Although Egypt became a net importer of natural gas in 2015 due to increased domestic demand and declining production levels, it again became a net exporter of gas in the beginning of 2019 with the fast-tracked development of Zohr, Atoll, and West Nile Delta (WND) projects as well as few other projects in the Nile Delta.

The country’s natural gas production increased from 48.8 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2017 to 58.6bcm in 2018. Its liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are expected to be doubled to two billion cubic feet a day (bcf/d) by 2020.