Exploration activities commenced in 1990 and, to date, in excess of 30 exploration wells have been drilled, resulting in 16 field discoveries.
The initial discoveries were the El Merk (EMK) and El Merk East (EME) fields in Block 208. These were followed by the discovery of three major oil fields in Block 404a: Hassi Berkine (HBN), Hassi Berkine South (HBNS) and Ourhoud. Later, nine satellite fields were discovered in Block 404a.
The HBNS field was brought on production in 1998 with an initial production capacity of 60,000 barrels of oil per day.
In 2002, the central production facility, located at the HBNS field, was expanded to 285,000 barrels of oil per day to accommodate additional production from the HBNS, HBN and the Block 404a satellite fields.
The Ourhoud Field, located in the southeastern corner of Block 404a, is the second largest oil field in Algeria and was discovered in 1994. Development drilling began in late 1998. Oil production began in 2002 and the field has separate production facilities with a capacity of about 250,000 barrels of oil per day.
Export of the produced oil takes place through a 30" pipeline linking Block 404a with Algeria's export infrastructure to the north. Crude oil is lifted by customers at the coastal terminals.
Development of the El Merk project, which entails four fields and a separate central production facility, was sanctioned in 2009. Development work is ongoing with first oil expected by the end of 2012.
At the present, there are no exploration activities.
Maersk Oil added value
Through its participation as a non-operator, Maersk Oil works with the operator to:
- improve HSE standards in the Algerian operations
- provide technical input to the development of the fields
- second staff into the operating companies
- actively participate in the sanctioning and management of new projects to optimize production and ultimate recovery from the fields
Maersk Oil entered Algeria in 1990 through a joint venture with Anadarko covering several blocks. Maersk Oil currently retains interest in two blocks. The blocks are situated some 700 kilometers south of the Mediterranean coast in the Sahara Desert. Total acreage is 1,639 km2. Maersk Oil holds between 4.589 and 12.25% interest in the blocks.