Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on September 27th ignited the Palestinians’ first offshore natural gas well, marking the test program of a project expected to aid in developing the economy of a future Palestinian state.
Arafat said that: “What happened today is for the benefit and future of the Palestinian people.” Palestinian officials have indicated that natural gas reserves could fulfill the energy requirements of a future state for decades and possibly even allow for a small volume of exports.
Arafat intends to declare an independent state later this year in the area comprising the self-ruled Gaza state and the West Bank. Last November, Arafat signed with BG International the first license for gas exploration off the coast of Gaza, with BG investing $40 million to drill two exploration wells off the Gaza strip and pledging to invest up to $500 million over 25 years to develop the Palestinian natural gas industry, including exploration and infrastructure.
BG’s tests at the new well have shown a flow rate of 37 million cubic feet of gas per day, with the test equipment constraining the flow. BG Vice President Timothy Forbes said that: “We have made an extremely good discovery and it is commercial.”
An appraisal well is to be drilled at the end of the year, or early in 2001, which will give a more accurate picture of the volume of gas reserves. Up to five development wells are planned to bring gas onshore by at least 2003, according to BG officials.