Libya's Bouri offshore field pumping near 40,000 bpd, plans more


By Ulf Laessing

BOURI OIL RIG, Libya, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Libya is producingalmost 40,000 barrels a day at its Bouri offshore oilfield,jointly run with Italy's ENI, and plans to add up to15,000 bpd within six months by launching new drillingtechnology, executives said on Wednesday.

Located some 130 km north of Tripoli in the MediterraneanSea, the country's biggest offshore field has been unaffected bythe wave of strikes, which have brought much of Libya'sproduction and ports to a halt.

"There were some requests from employees for compensationfor a certain period of time but we sorted it out so there is nostrike, no stop in production," said Abdulhadi Ghrabali, thefield's top manager.

The Bouri field, where production started in 1988, is run bythe Mellitah Oil and Gas Company, a joint-venture of ENI and thestate-owned National Oil Corp.

The field, comprising 38 wells, is currently pumping 37,914bpd, of which 21,940 bpd come from its main "DP4" platform, hesaid. The 349 staff reside on two platforms and a tanker.

Output is slightly below the field's average of between38,000 bpd and 40,000 bpd as the company is introducing newdrilling technology with the help of U.S. firm Schlumberger, he said. Pressure on some wells had become too lowafter being in use for many years.

"We have to convert the wells from natural flow category to... electric submersible pumps," Ghrabali told Reuters during avisit to the main oil rig.

Within six months, some 12 wells would be upgraded whichwould boost output by between 12,000 bpd and 15,000 bpd, companyexecutives said.

In a second expansion step, Mellitah is planning to produceup to 50 million cubic feet of gas for export from the field,Ghrabali said, without giving a timeframe. The field nowproduces 109.7 million cubic feet of gas but all but 8.5 millionis being wasted as flared up.

"We are putting gas compressors here," he told reporters,adding that gas will be routed to Mellitah's Sabratah gasoffshore rig, located some 20 km away.

The Bouri field also plans by 2015 to get a new SouthKorean-made tanker for storage to replace its 1973-built Italianship. It will have the same storage facility of 1.5 millionbarrels but better metering technology, he said.

A combination of strikes, militias and political activistshave blocked the majority of Libya's oilfields and ports sincethe end of July and the government's fledgling army and policeforce has struggled to deal with armed protesters.

Oil output has risen to 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) andfull production could be restored within days once thegovernment resolves strikes that have blocked oilfields andports, Libya's oil minister said last week.

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