Norway's Atlantis plans to drill four more gas wells off Umm Al Quwain. This follows the drilling of the first well - Umm Al Quwain-3 - work on which started last month. Daily output is expected to be 100 million cubic feet of gas and 1,000 barrels of liquids comprising LPG and condensates, sources said.

Drilling is expected to cost Dh293.6 million, at an average spend per well of Dh55 million to Dh62.4 million, they added. The field off Umm Al Quwain is believed to have reserves of 500 billion cubic feet of gas. No official comment was available from the authorities.

Output may start in second-half 2002, and it is expected that the gas will be processed at neighbouring Sharjah's refinery rather than build a new plant. The officials said the gas may be marketed by other local companies to UAE consumers, possibly in the Northern Emirates.

News agencies recently reported Atlantis had started drilling an exploratory offshore gas well under a concession signed in December 1999, according to a company official.

Umm Al Quwain-3 is the first in the Gulf to be drilled by Atlantis after it conducted seismic studies last year. Two earlier wells, Umm Al Quwain-1 and Umm Al Quwain-2, were drilled in 1976 and 1977 respectively.