Vast reserves of natural gas reserve have been discovered northwest of Assoumoud, south of the town of Brega, 700 km from Tripoli, the Libyan capital reported the Pan-African News Service.
According to Libya’s National Oil Agency (NOC), the new reserve contains an estimated at 474 billion cubic feet of gas recoverable at a rate of 293 billion cubic feet.
Prior to this latest announcement, the U.S. Department of Energy estimated Libya's proven natural gas reserves to be 46.4 trillion cubic.
But, stated the DOE, Libya’s actual gas reserves are largely unexploited and unexplored, and is believed by Libyan experts to be as high as 50-70 trillion cubic feet.
Libyan natural gas development projects currently underway include as-Sarah and Nahoora, Faregh, Wafa, offshore block NC-41, Abu-Attifel, Intisar, and block NC-98.
In recent years large new discoveries have been made in the Ghadames and El-Bouri fields, as well as in the Sirte basin.
At present the only foreign customer for Libyan gas is Spain's Enagas.
But in the works is a $5.5-billion joint venture agreement between Agip-ENI and NOC on the Western Libyan Gas Project (WLGP), aimed at developing and exporting large volumes of natural gas to Italy.
It will involve Italy's Edison Gas importing about 140 billion cubic feet of gas per annum by 2006 via a 590-km underwater pipeline under the Mediterranean, to southeastern Sicily, and then on to the Italian mainland via a connection with the TransMediterranean system carrying Algerian gas to Italy.
Edison plans to use the gas mainly to generate electricity.
In June 1997, following a visit to Libya by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, an agreement in principle was concluded to link Egypt and Libya's gas grids. The plan is still being studied.
A related proposal involves the construction of a 1,440-km pipeline from North Africa to southern Europe, which could transport natural gas from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria, via Morocco and into Spain.
In May 1997, Tunisia and Libya agreed to set up a joint venture which will build a natural gas pipeline from the Mellita area in Libya to the southern Tunisian city of Gabes.
In late 1998, Tunisia and Libya signed an agreement for around 70 billion cubic feet of gas per year to be delivered from Libyan gas fields to Cap Bon, Tunisia beginning in 2003.
In 1971, Libya became only the second country in the world, after Algeria, to export liquefied natural gas (LNG).
But during the years that followed, its LNG exports have underperformed, largely due to technical limitations.
Libya's LNG plant, at Marsa El Brega, was built in the late 1960s by Esso and has a capacity of 124 billion cubic feet per year, of which only one-third can be made available for.
Work to upgrade the El Brega LNG plant has been delayed since 1992. But, if completed, Libyan LNG exports could triple, with the likely customers including Spain, Turkey and Italy. – (Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )