In This Issue
StratoChem Contacts in the United States
Egypt Awards 9 Oil and Gas Exploration Contracts
Iraq: Gulf Keystone's Akri-Bijeel Block Declared Commercial
Marathon Struggles to Exit Libya
Sonatrach Inks Deal with Petrofac/Bonatti
Iraq: Marathon Oil Announces Kurdistan Discovery
New SCS Building Shot
Upcoming Events  
  • November 5th: AAPEX Regional Conference - Istanbul, Turkey
  • November 5th: SPE Canada Unconventional Resources - Conference, Calgary AB, Canada
  • November 5th: Annual World Shale Oil & Gas Exhibition - Houston TX, USA 
  • November 5th: East Africa Local Content for the Oil & Gas Industry - Nairobi, Kenya 
  • November 6th: Gulf of Guinea Gas Conference - Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire 
  • November 23rd: Business Skills for Project Managers - Cairo, Egypt 
The 7 Most Frightening Monsters from Egyptian Stories     
Egyptians are renowned in the Middle East for their sense of humor, but they're story-telling skills don't end with comedy. In honor of Halloween, here are some of Egypt's unique contributions to the world of horror.

(Image by Jeff Dahl.)

Combining the head of a crocodile, the front legs of a leopard, and the hindquarters of a hippo, Ammut was believed by ancient Egyptians to devour those judged by the god Osiris to be too sinful for the afterlife. 

Ancient Egyptian myths said that this giant serpent tried to devour the sun during the nighttime hours, and had to be defeated by the god Set. 

(Photo by Caroline Seawrigh.)
Shezmu was a lion-headed demon believed to be Osiris's executioner. Often portrayed as a man with the bloody head of a lion and a belt of skulls, he was also known as "the Slaughterer of Souls." 
(Photo by Remih.) 

A sphinx with a falcon's head, the appearance of a hieracosphinx was believed by the ancient Egyptians to be an evil omen. 

El Naddaha
This beautiful female jinn whispers to men from the banks of the Nile, compelling them to seek her out. As soon as her victims reach her, she drowns and eats them 

An afrit is an evil jinn. Made of black fire, the afrit can take the form of various dangerous animals and often haunts abandoned houses. 
The ghul is a demon that lives in cemeteries, where it eats the bodies of the dead.  Though ghilan can change their shapes, they can be distinguished by the observant because their feet always resemble those of a donkey. 
Greetings from StratoChem  

We've nearly reached the end of 2013, and it's been quite a year. From political upheaval to new business ventures, there have been ups and downs, but we remain as optimistic, confident, and intent on providing the best possible geochemical analysis and interpretation as ever.

Total Organic Carbon data from the Western Desert revealed some very interesting information. . .

Most exciting is the launch of our study of the Cenomanian-Turonian sediments in Egypt's Western Desert, the first in a planned series of studies concentrating on the Cenomanian-Turonian from Lebanon to Tunisia.  Drawing on data from over 60 wells and nearly twenty-five years of analytical and interpretive experience in the region, we're making the Western Desert study available to regional explorers for just $60,000, though the geochemical analysis alone is worth a great deal more. For further information on the study and its contents, please contact us.

As the year draws to a close, we wish you the same happiness, health, and continuing good fortune with which we are blessed.


Your Friends at StratoChem Services


StratoChem Contacts in the United States


For the past several years, our fastest-growing client base has been in the United States of America. With our ability to provide first-class geochemical analysis and interpretation anywhere in the world at speeds unmatched by our competitors, it's no wonder that StratoChem is rapidly becoming the first choice of several American companies. 



To better facilitate the needs of our American customers, StratoChem Services will soon have two American representatives on-hand to better answer questions, handle logistics, and take care of the unique needs of the American market.  Business Development Manager David Mungo ( and Sales Manager and Client Representative Hunter Eden ( are now based in the United States full-time and invite you to direct any questions, concerns, and comments to them.


Egypt Awards 9 Oil and Gas Exploration Contracts, Ministry Says

Egypt Flag Flat October 31st, 2013  



Egypt signed nine crude oil and natural-gas exploration agreements with companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) as the country struggles to revamp an economy battered by almost three years of political turmoil.

The contracts, the first such awards since 2010, will require a minimum investment of $470 million, the country's oil ministry said in an e-mailed statement today. The contract winners agreed to drill 15 wells in the Gulf of Suez, the Sinai, and the eastern and western deserts, the ministry said.


Egypt is "still able to attract petroleum investments," Oil Minister Sherif Ismail said in the statement. "Egypt's potential for new petroleum finds," helped bring companies to seek the exploration deals, he said.


The Arab world's most populous nation is struggling to expand oil and gas exploration and attract international companies to help meet surging domestic demand and declining output after the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 triggered an economic slowdown. The north African country, a gas exporter, is also seeking bids to import liquefied natural gas through a tender whose results have not yet been announced.


Pico International Petroleum, a unit of Pico Holdings Inc. (PICO), Greystone Oil and Gas LLP, and Petzed Investment and Project Management Ltd. were also among the winners of the exploration contracts, who will receive total signing bonuses of $50 million, the Cairo-based ministry said today.


Egyptian state oil and gas companies owe foreign partners around $6 billion for past fuel supplies that haven't yet been paid for, Ismail said in a phone interview yesterday.


Iraq: Gulf Keystone's Akri-Bijeel Block Declared Commercial
November 1st, 2013

Gulf Keystone has confirmed that Kalegran Ltd, a 100% subsidiary of MOL and Operator of the Akri-Bijeel Block in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on behalf of the Contractor (Kalegran with 80 per cent working interest and Gulf Keystone Petroleum International with 20 per cent working interest), has declared the Akri-Bijeel Block commercial.

Gulf Keystones Akri-Bijeel Block

The full announcement from MOL is reproduced in full below:


Commercial discovery declaration and acceleration of work program on the Akri-Bijeel Block


MOL hereby informs the capital market participants that Kalegran Ltd. (a 100% subsidiary of MOL), as Operator on behalf of the Contractor (comprising Kalegran and Gulf Keystone Petroleum International Limited) officially declared the Akri Bijeel Block commercial based on the discoveries made in the Bijell-1 well in Jurassic horizons and Bakrman-1 well in Triassic horizon. MOL is accelerating its work program through employing additional rigs and plans to submit the Field Development Plan for the whole block by the end of 2014.


Please find below an update on its ongoing work programs in the Akri-Bijeel block, Kurdistan, which is operated by Kalegran Ltd.


Operational highlights:

  • Results of the Bakrman-1 exploration well: Triassic Kurra Chine B formation was subject to extended well testing from 25 July until 26 August 2013. The well test confirmed long-term production sustainability. Current tests gave maximum flow rates of 3,192 bbl/d light density oil with average 40 API gravity and 10.19 MMscf/d of sour gas on 64/64" choke. Submission of the Appraisal Work Program is due in Q4 2013. Kurra Chine B formation Discovery is subject to Appraisal Work Program which has been started with a 3D seismic acquisition fully covering the Bakrman structure. Drilling 2 appraisal wells is planned to start in 2014 and we are targeting early oil production around in the first half of 2015. Independently from the Triassic discovery, potential Jurassic reservoirs are also targets of further wells.
  • Appraisal program of Bijell-1 discovery: Kalegran Ltd and its partners are going on with the Appraisal Work Program of the Bijell Field. Extended Well Test ("EWT") facility construction and commissioning was successfully finished. It is capable of handling up to 10,000 bbl/d gross nameplate capacity production on the Bijell-1 site. Due to technical issues a Bijell-1A well sidetrack is required (Bijell-1B), resulting in a delay to the start of the 180 day EWT, this has now been postponed to Q1 2014. Drilling of Bijell-2 appraisal well is ongoing and will be followed with two further appraisal wells. Early oil production could be resumed from Bijell-1B in Q1 2014. Expected EPF rates of 10,000 bbl of oil could be achieved by the end of 2014 through the tie in of three wells (Bijell-2, Bijell-4 and Bijell-6).
  • Rig availability: In order to efficiently progress the planned accelerated work stream we intend to employ 2 more drilling rigs than originally planned and work with 4 rigs by the end of the appraisal programs on the Akri Bijeel block.

Alexander Dodds, Executive Vice President for Upstream commented: 'MOL is pleased to announce commerciality on the Akri-Bijeel block after recent successful long term tests in our Bakrman discovery. Meanwhile, in the Bijell area we identified the potential to accelerate the work program and increase the number of rigs in order to finalize the appraisal activity as soon as possible and maximize EWT production during 2014. This declaration is another milestone in the fruitful relationship with KRG which covers not only the lucrative cooperation in the oil and gas industry, but also a wider area in supporting the development of local communities.'


Operational details:


Bakrman field:

  • Following our announced discovery in the Triassic Kurra Chine B formation in the Bakrman-1 exploration well in February, a longer term, 24 days production test (MD 3,930- 4,100 m) was concluded from 25 July until 26 of August 2013. Test results confirmed light oil and sour gas saturation with maximal oil production level around 3,192 bbl/d and 10,19 MMscf/d of gas on 64/64" choke size.
  • After completing Triassic EWT, Bakrman-1 sidetrack was drilled targeting Jurassic reservoir in updip position. Jurassic target was drilled 236m higher compared to vertical well. Reservoir was tested in interval 1936 - 2000 mMD, no inflow was obtained and only traces of bitumen and heavy oil were recovered. The well is temporarily suspended as future Triassic producer.
  • Kurra Chine B formation Discovery is subject to Appraisal Work Program which has been started with a 3D seismic acquisition fully folding the Bakrman structure.
  • At current stage we plan to drill 2 appraisal wells and deploy an Early Production Facility already in 2015 in order to commence early oil production.
  • Further wells in the Work Program target Jurassic reservoirs as well, currently as an upside potential.

Bijell field:

  • Bijell Extended Well Test ("EWT") surface facility construction and commissioning was finished. Total gross capacity of the EWT facility is 10,000 boepd in phase-1, while storage tanks have 30,000 boe capacity. Under current technical conditions, it is subservient to deviate the well to exclude or minimize the water inflow and increase the oil productivity.Bijell-1B sidetrack drilling, testing and completion to be finished in Q1 2014.
  • Drilling of Bijell-7 appraisal well was finished at total depth of 5,050 m at end of June, drilled 10 km to the south-south-east of the Bijell-1 discovery well. Jurassic reservoir section found tight during the vertical drilling. It was followed by a highly deviated sidetrack which confirmed oil saturation, however, the reservoir was poorly fractured and was not capable of flowing naturally even after stimulation.
  • Bijell-2 well was spud on 13 March 2013, currently drilling the upper Jurassic section. Planned TD is 5330m, will be tested in Q1 2014.
  • Further steps aiming at the completion of the appraisal program including the drilling and testing of Bijell-4 & -6 by Q3 2014 in case of both wells. A full coverage 3D seismic will be available for the Bijell area in November 2013.
  • Early oil production could be resumed from Bijell-1B in Q1 2014, subsequently adding B-2, B-4 and B-6 on stream by the Q3 2014. Expected EPF plateau of 10,000 bbl of oil could be achieved by the end 2014.
Marathon Struggles to Exit Libya as Unrest Grows
Libyan Flag
October 29th, 2013

Libya has blocked efforts by U.S. company Marathon Oil to sell its stake in one of the country's top oil ventures by moving to preempt a deal, sources said, highlighting the struggle investors face in cutting exposure to Libya's unrest.
Two years of turmoil since the Arab Spring and tough contract terms have prompted oil firms to reassess their role in Libya, and U.S. companies appear keenest to leave as they lack the proximity and infrastructure links that make North Africa attractive to their European peers.


Sources told Reuters in July that Marathon was considering the sale of its stake in Libya's Waha Oil Company, which has a maximum output capacity of 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) and produces the OPEC member's main light sweet crude grade.


Oil Minister Abdelbari Arusi later said Libya's National Oil Corp (NOC) could buy Marathon's stake though other companies, which he did not name, were also interested.

But a senior Libyan oil source said this week that Marathon had decided against selling the stake after talks with NOC.


Contracts require foreign oil companies to secure NOC approval for any sale and also give it the right of first refusal in the event of any sale, the source said.

"The company has changed its mind," he told Reuters. "Marathon as a partner indicated its desire to sell its shares. It had talks with the NOC and before receiving approval, I believe things changed for the company. The last I heard the deal was off."


A spokesman for Marathon declined to comment.


"We have not commented on any of the rumours and speculation about our Libya assets, so we do not have anything to offer at this time," he said.


Another source close to the matter said the NOC had told Marathon it would pre-empt any deal with its own bid and that the U.S. company should expect the offer to be below market prices.


"The NOC did not like the idea of Marathon pulling out. They thought it would send bad signals given the political climate," the source told Reuters.



Home to some of Africa's largest oil reserves, Libya has preempted the sale of a foreign company before, highlighting the determination of resource-rich countries to maximise their income and ensure strategic interests are upheld.


In 2009, Canadian explorer Verenex agreed to be bought out by a Libyan sovereign wealth fund for about $300 million after Libya blocked a significantly better offer from China National Petroleum Corp.


The source close to the matter said there was some Chinese interest in the Marathon stake but that talks had not progressed far before it became apparent that the NOC would preempt any deal. The source did not identify the potential Chinese bidder.


The Chinese do not have any major oil investments in Libya although they have become a top buyer of Libyan crude since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 war. Analysts say China is keen to expand its presence in North Africa's energy sector.


"If Marathon had come with a good buyer, it might have been different," said the source. "There are not piles of buyers."


Industry sources had said Marathon's stake sale would be difficult because the project required investment, terms were tough and unrest since the 2011 war had brought repeated and prolonged disruptions to production.


A mix of striking workers, militias and political activists have blocked several of Libya's major oil terminals for about three months, resulting in billions of dollars of lost revenues for the government and foreign oil companies operating there.


In the first quarter, production from Libya accounted for about 7 percent of Marathon's total output.


But Waha has been among the oil operations most heavily affected by the blockade of Es Sider, Libya's largest oil terminal, which has been closed since July.

Marathon and ConocoPhillips each hold a 16.3 percent working interest in the Waha concessions, Hess Corp. holds an 8.2 percent interest and Libya's NOC 59.2 percent.


Marathon's exit would have followed that of ExxonMobil , which said last month the security situation no longer justified a big presence, and Royal Dutch Shell, which last year abandoned two blocks after disappointing results.


But unlike those majors, which were at the exploration stage, Marathon was a stakeholder in an established production company. Analysts said its withdrawal would have sent a more negative signal as the government struggles to bring production back up to its 1.5 million bpd capacity.


Production has stabilised at about 600,000 bpd, an NOC official said this week, and talks are continuing to end protests that have seen eastern ports remain shut.

Marathon has sought to sell other assets, including its stake in an offshore Angolan field, as part of efforts to shore up its balance sheet and fund other projects.

Sonatrach Inks Deal with Petrofac/Bonatti

October 31st, 2013


Sonatrach signed a $668 million contract with a consortium made up of Petrofac and Bonatti for the construction of a gas compression project in the Sahara desert.


The project aims to maintain production levels at the Alrar Est and Ouest gas fields in the Illizi basin, where reservoir pressure is falling, and where output currently stands at 24 Mmcm/d.


The project is expected to take 32 months to complete and will also improve the treatment of natural gas liquids such as condensate and LPG.

Iraq: Marathon Oil Announces Mirawa Discovery in Kurdistan
Iraq Flag
October 30th, 2013

Marathon Oil Corporation announced today the Mirawa-1 exploration well has discovered multiple stacked oil and natural gas producing zones on the Company's operated Harir Block in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Located approx. 40 miles northeast of Erbil, the Mirawa-1 well was drilled to a total depth of approx. 14,000 feet. Oil and natural gas shows were noted over an extensive gross interval of both Jurassic and Triassic reservoirs from 5,800 feet to total depth. An extensive drill-stem testing program was conducted. Flow rates, which were equipment constrained, were established from multiple zones in the Jurassic of high-quality oil (39 - 45 API) totaling in excess of 11,000 barrels per day (bpd). Additionally, multiple non-associated gas zones in the Triassic flowed at rates totaling approx. 72 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd), together with associated condensate from one zone at a rate of 1,700 bpd.


'The Mirawa oil and natural gas discovery well found significant resources in both the Jurassic and Triassic reservoirs. We look forward to further appraising this discovery and drilling our next Harir Block prospect, Jisik,' said Marathon Oil president and CEO Lee Tillman. 'The success we and others have had in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, including this most recent discovery, demonstrates the importance of this region as a potential major hydrocarbon producer. As the first large U.S. publicly traded company to enter in October 2010, Marathon Oil is pleased to have a strong presence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.'


The Mirawa-1 well will be suspended for potential future use as a producing well. Following completion of current operations, the drilling rig will be moved to the Jisik-1 prospect located nine miles northwest of Mirawa-1. The Jisik-1 well will test a similar prospective structure to Mirawa.


Marathon Oil is the operator with a 45 percent working interest in the Harir Block. Total holds a 35 percent working interest, and the Kurdistan Regional Government holds a 20 percent carried interest.