With Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices having risen to unprecedented levels in January and the outlook remaining extremely robust Iran believes now is the time to move full ahead with its long-term strategy to become a leading global LNG supplier. A key focus for this will be the North Pars non-associated natural gas field that was the largest gas reservoir in Iran before the discovery of supergiant South Pars field in 1990. Propitiously for the speed of development of North Pars, not only are the spot prices of LNG set to remain at the historical high-end but also Iran has virtually completed all phases of its South Pars development.
Located some 120 kilometres southeast of the southern Bushehr Province, the North Pars gas field has around 59 trillion cubic feet (about 1.67 trillion cubic metres) of gas in place, with a conservatively estimated recoverable volume of gas of approximately 47 trillion cubic feet. The gas itself is lean and sour with a condensate gas ratio of 4 barrels (0.64 cubic metres) per 1000 cubic feet and it contains around 6,000 parts per million of hydrogen sulphide and five per cent of carbon dioxide, a senior oil and gas figure who works closely with Iran’s Petroleum Ministry exclusively told OilPrice.com last week. The first design to operate in this field was approved in 1977 but, after the drilling of 17 wells and the installation of 26 offshore platforms, the active development of North Pars was suspended due to 1979 Islamic Revolution in the country and the subsequent war with Iraq from 1980-1988.
A recent internal study of the state of North Pars by Iran determined that the field is still in a highly workable state for a quick push to significant gas output – specifically, at least 100 million cubic metres per day (mcm/d) within less than 12 months of proper development – with all of the gas recovered to be channelled into LNG production of at least 20 million metric tonnes per annum (mtpa). This is the LNG figure from the first 12 month phase of development only of North Pars but even this compares favourably to the entire yearly output of global LNG powerhouse – and Iran’s neighbour – Qatar, at 77 mtpa for many years. Although Qatar is set to increase this output to around 110 mtpa, Iran is set to not only bring on further phases of development of North Pars but also the development with a view to the LNG market of a number of other major gas fields, including most immediately Golshan, Ferdowsi, Farzad A and Farzad B, and Kish. It should not be forgotten that the major field from which Qatar takes the gas to sustain its status as number one LNG exporter in the world is exactly the same 9,700 square kilometre reservoir from which Iran draws much of its own gas: Qatar’s 6,000 square kilometre side of the field is the North Dome, whilst Iran’s 3,700 square kilometre side is South Pars (North Pars has been treated as an additional site).
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