Continuing its push to expand operations beyond oil, Shell announced on August 31 that it had discovered a rich vein of natural gas in Egypt. The early estimates when it comes to the potential reserves of the PTI – 2 gas field are pegged at least 500 billion cubic feet. That would make it one of the largest discoveries in this specific area in recent memory.

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Four years ago, Shell had obtained the rights to explore for both natural gas and oil in the north Alam El-Shawish concession area, located in the country’s western desert. Connecting with the Egyptian General Petroleum Corp. the following year to form Badr El-Din Petroleum Co. (BAPETCo), this discovery is expected to amount to anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of BAPETCo’s yearly production.

While the project itself had begun long before Shell’s acquisition of the BG Group was completed earlier this year, BG is known for its expertise in this specific facet of the energy industry.

The effort to obtain the commodity involved digging deep wells and the use of state-of-the-art technology to pinpoint the location of the area. The natural gas will be used within Egypt itself, which has been in the midst of an energy crisis and has been importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) at a higher price. That energy issue affected the Egyptian economy during the summer of 2015, resulting in factories dealing with lower levels of production.

The increase in supply will also offer a direct source for a commodity that still finds itself in the midst of a worldwide glut. Demand has yet to pick up after two years of down numbers, which has helped create excess supply and forced a number of natural gas companies to either cut back or simply go out of business.