Stock Sharjah gas storage
Sharjah National Oil Corporation has just commenced operations at its gas storage project, a year after discovering a major onshore gas find in Mahani. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: Sharjah government’s energy company is not going to get sidetracked by the renewables revolution. Definitely not after having discovered last year its biggest onshore field find in decades.

So for now, it’s oil and gas for Sharjah National Oil Corp. rather than sun and wind. “The sun doesn't shine at night… and the wind doesn't always blow,” said Hatem Al Mosa, CEO of SNOC. “So, you will always complement renewables with natural gas.

“The world is nowhere close to 100 per cent dependence on renewables - because the technology is still not there for energy storage on a large scale.”

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Digging deep

It was in January 2020 that SNOC and Italy’s Eni confirmed the gas find, at the ‘Mahani’ exploration prospect in Sharjah. And at the start of this year, the partners confirmed launch of gas storage on-site, which will help balance gas supply and demand in Sharjah.

“The project is nowhere close to being finished and we're nowhere close to its ultimate potential,” said Al Mosa. “We can double, triple its capacity with further investment. For the present, we don't need that because we don't have the demand for it.”

Hitting a peak

This development might have come at the right time for Sharjah. While power consumption has reduced everywhere else due to COVID-19, it went in the opposite direction in UAE’s third most populous emirate.

“A large percentage of people who work in Dubai live in Sharjah, and during the lockdowns these people worked from home,” said Al Mosa. “So, the actual electricity bill increased in Sharjah during the lockdowns.”

Storage is high yielding

Sharjah National Oil Company is firming up plans to expand the lucrative energy storage business now that the Mahani site is making solid headway. “This is the second gas storage installation in the UAE, and maybe even the second in the Middle East,” the CEO added.

The project includes installation of high pressure (HP) gas compression units, a HP gas pipeline and support facilities, metering and tie-ins to existing plant and wells.

The first gas was piped to the facility on January 1, and was completed on budget within a year from the EPC contract.

What’s at stake in Mahani?
The Mahani exploration prospect is an onshore field in the Area B Concession of Sharjah. It was awarded to Eni at the first International Competitive Exploration Licensing Round conducted by the Petroleum Council of Sharjah.
The Mahani-1 was drilled to a total of 14,597 feet measured depth. The well encountered a thick gas-bearing limestone reservoir. The well was tested with flow rates up to 50 Mscf/d (million cubic feet per day) of lean gas and associated condensate.
The size of the discovery will be further assessed with additional appraisal drilling.
Eni holds a 50 per cent stake in the Concession Area B with SNOC holding the rest and being the operator.