Blocks On Offer, But Risks Limit Interest

Yeme n has offered offshore and onshore blocks for bid, with firms interest ed in the acreage to have registered by the end of April , according to the country's oil ministry. A recent successful bidding round bodes well: i n March 2013 Yemen announced the acceptance of bids for five onshore and offshore blocks that were previously put on offer. However, it should be noted that it was smaller players - Hunt Oil , Circle Oil , Pakistan Oil - who took on these blocks.

Although the security and political situation has improved marginally, and BMI 's country risk team expects Yemen 's economy to return to growth in 2013 after two years of contraction in the wake of the civil war that ousted the country's long - term president , security and political risks remain high ( see our online service, March 28 2013, 'Growth To Accelerate In 2013' ). Thus, we do not that believe conditions ha ve improved enough to support strong interest from larger international oil companies (IOC's) .

Yemen's 2013 Acreage Offer
Block number Block Name Onshore/offshore Acreage (sq km) Basin Previous wells
Source: Deloitte
Block 12 North Sanau Onshore 7,867 Rub Al Khali 0
Block 16 Al Qamar Offshore 10,864 Jiza-Qamar 4
Block 17 Aden-Abyan Offshore 19,385 Aden 1
Block 19 Al Jawf Onshore 8,424 Marib 8
Block 22 Kamaran Offshore 11,936 Tihamah 6
Block 23 Hodaidah Offshore 10,808 Tihamah 6
Block 28 North Balhaf Onshore 4,465 Sab'atayn 2
Block 54 Shahar Onshore 7,412 Rub Al Khali 1
Block 55 Midi Offshore 11,015 Tihama 2
Block 57 Al Rayan Onshore 10,963 Rub al Khali 1
Block 58 Showkat Al Kharydah Onshore 10,963 Rub Al Khali 0
Block 61 South Mosina'ah Offshore 11,664 Mukalla 0
Block 62 Atab Offshore 16,227 Gulf of Aden 0
Block 79 North Al Khadrah Onshore 7,990 Rub Al Khali 2
Block 80 Wadi Sarr Onshore 1,961 Say'un Masila 0
Block 88 Wadi Du'ibir Onshore 1,901 Say'un Masila 1
Block 92 West Socotra Offshore 14,604 Socotra 0
Block 93 Ras Mume Offshore 20,515 Socotra 0
Block 94 Abd Alkori Offshore 12,886 Socotra 2
Block 95 Samhah Offshore 20,962 Socotra 2

The security situation remains they key obstacle to investment. In 2012 the gas pipeline feeding the country's sole liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal was attacked eight separate times. Oil pipelines have also been attacked with a n astonishing frequency since 2011 , and th is continues into 2013, with the latest incident occurring on May 1 , when the main export pip eline from Marib to the Red Sea was hit. Official estimates conclude that the supply disruptions stemming from attacks on midstream infrastructure cost the government more than US $ 1bn in lost revenue in 2012 and led to a 4.5% fall in oil exports over the same period. Since the unrest began , in 2011, the total cost of such attacks is pegged at between US$4bn and US$5bn , according to the country's oil ministry.

Output Struggles To Recover
Yemen's Monthly Crude Oil Production ('000b/d)

In 2012 the US Energy Information Administration ( EIA ) estimates that oil production in Yemen averaged around 156,000 barrels per day ( b/d ) , a precipitous drop of nearly 40% from the pre-crisis level of 260,000b /d in 2010 . Although output has stabilised in recent months at between 150,000 b/d and 160,000b/d, ongoing infrastructure sabotage and the potential for further deterioration in the political situation continue to make Yemen a high risk operating environment. This will continue to discourage investments in Yemen's open acreage from larger IOC's , even those such as Total with existing interests , such as the French IOC's stake in the Yemen LNG export terminal.

Indeed , ongoing pressure from Yemeni officials to revise the long - term sales price of gas upwards from 2014 highlights the pressure the government is under as economic disruptions continue. Oil minister Ahmed Dares was hopeful that raising prices would increase gas revenues from US$160mn to US$34 0mn , but the moves could encourage a cautious approach to investment , given the risk that operations could be affected by government attempts to capture additional funds.

T he news is not all bad, independent Kuwait Energy reported a 24% year - on - year surge in outpu t on the back of its acquisition of Jannah Hunt in Yemen. The firm is conducting seismic activity across Blocks 49, 82, and 83 . However , previously announced plans to raise Yemeni production to 400,000b/d within five years seem unlikely , given the lack of stability in the country . This is despite the fact that Yemen remains prospective , with current production occurring in only two of an estimated 12 basins thought to contain oil reserves.

This article is tagged to:
Sector: Oil & Gas
Geography: Yemen

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