June 20, 2012 / 5:21 PM / 7 years ago

German RWE delays Libya oil start up

LONDON, June 20 (Reuters) - The oil arm of Germany’s power giant RWE said on Wednesday it would postpone a start up of its large oil fields in Libya, still awaiting an agreement with local authorities on the structure of the venture.

“We are now at the place where we need to build up a joint venture with NOC, all the formalities are in place we are now waiting for NOC to go into registration with us,” Christoph Schlichter, senior vice president for North Africa at RWE Dea said on the sidelines of a conference in London.

RWE had initially hoped to start production in 2014-2015 but that date is no longer realistic, said Schlichter.

“They (Libyans) are keen to get new investments on the rise quickly to provide more jobs. But their focus has been ramping up (existing) production,” he said referring to a full shut down of Libyan production last year due to a civil war.

The company undertook an exploration campaign in Libya between 2003 and 2010 and made eight discoveries at blocks NC 193 and NC 195. The fields were declared to be commercially viable just prior to the start of the 2011 Libyan conflict, so development plans with NOC could not be finalised.

The discoveries are in the order of 100 million barrels but it is too early to estimate a production rate, added Schlichter.

RWE is the top power producer in Germany and it has been expanding abroad to focus predominantly on Norway, the UK, Egypt, Libya and Algeria, as well as on Denmark and Poland and the Caspian region.

In Algeria, state-owned Sonatrach gave final approval in February this year for a $3 billion development of the North Reggane gas field project.

RWE has a 19.5 percent stake in the project led by Spanish oil and gas company Repsol with Algeria’s Sonatrach and Italian utilities company Edison.

The start of production further depends on the timely construction of the GR5 pipeline, which has been delayed several times. The pipeline will connect South West gas fields with Algeria’s largest gas field and gas hub, Hassi R’ Mel.

“We started field development of Reggane North, together with Sonatrach, Edison and Repsol,” said Schlichter, “From what we hear, the (GR5) pipeline should be ready by end 2015. And we will start after, in 2016.”

Production is expected to stabilise at 8 million cubic metres a day for the first 12 years Reggane is in operation. (Reporting by Julia Payne; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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