Gazprom has started drilling its first exploration well in Africa in the El Assel onshore region in Algeria, the Russian energy giant said in a statement on Monday. Under a contract signed with the Algerian National Hydrocarbon Agency (ALNAFT), Gazprom began drilling the Rhourde Sayah-2 well in the Berkine Basin in Algeria, the statement said.
The drilling is part of Gazprom's obligations in regard to the terms of a tender for hydrocarbon exploration and drilling of four wells on the El Assel onshore area, which was won by the Russian energy giant. According to provisional estimates, the recoverable oil reserves of El Assel should average 30 million metric tons (220 million barrels). El Assel includes three blocks covering a total of 3,083 square kilometers (1,190 square miles).
Algeria's proven natural gas reserves account for 4.58 trillion cubic meters and are the second largest in Africa after Nigeria (5.15 trillion cubic meters). The bulk of the country's natural gas reserves are concentrated in the central and eastern parts of the country.
The country's proven oil reserves amount to 1.58 billion tons (11.6 billion barrels) and are the third largest in Africa after Libya and Nigeria. Gazprom intends to complete the drilling of the first exploration well in June 2010 and the other three over the next two years, the statement said.