LONDON, March 9 (UPI) -- British energy company BP considers the Nile Delta region of Egypt to be a "world-class" basin for natural gas, its chief executive officer said Monday.
BP said it ran through a 164-foot column of natural gas while drilling a deepwater exploration well in the Atoll-1 region of the Nile Delta. It's expected to be the deepest well ever drilled in Egypt, with gas intersection reached at more than 20,000 feet below the surface.
"Success in Atoll further increases our confidence in the quality of the Nile Delta as a world-class gas basin," BP CEO Bob Dudley said in a statement.
The discovery is the second for BP in the region. All told, the company said it estimates its license areas in the region hold more than 5 trillion cubic feet of gas.
The declaration for Atoll-1 comes three days after the company said it signed a $12 billion pledge to develop prospects in the western Nile Delta. BP said that region will eventually produce around 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, which would represent about 25 percent of the country's current gas production if estimates are correct.
Political and economic instability in Egypt has left the government in debt to energy companies eager to tap the country's reserve potential. The government recently agreed to cover at least $2 billion owed to a group of operators collectively.