Middle East - Background

Map of MEPS interests in the Middle East The main areas of interest in the Middle East are the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen and, moving further afield, Egypt, Turkey and Kazakhstan.

Between 1981 and 1987, Mr. Fellowes negotiated and concluded a series of Concession Agreements in the United Arab Emirates, on behalf of the Lundin Group of Companies, including Peninsula Petroleum, North-South Resources, International Petroleum Corporation and Consolidated International Petroleum, which were all listed on Canadian Stock Exchanges.

These Concessions were located in Dubai, Umm al Quwain, Ras al Khaimah and Oman. In 1987 Mr. Fellowes set up a joint venture between the Arabex Consultants (an affiliate of MEPS based in Dubai) and BHP Petroleum, to participate in Concessions in Oman and Fujairah and to evaluate opportunities throughout the Middle East. Later that year, Arabex Petroleum N.L. ("Arabex") was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

In 1990, just prior to the amalgamation of North and South Yemen, Arabex negotiated the rights to the North Sanau Concession in South Yemen and concluded farmouts with Pecten (Shell USA) and Arco to undertake exploration in these areas. Other areas in Yemen that were negotiated by MEPS affiliates included the Hood Block (immediately north of the Canadian Occidental discoveries) and the acquisition of a 20% interest from Pecten in the East Shabwa Block immediately to the west of the Canadian Occidental discoveries (now producing 400,000 bopd). Partners in these ventures included Lasmo, British Gas, Idemitsu, Command Petroleum and Soco.

In 1990 MEPS formed an alliance with Rampex Exploration Consultants ("Rampex") based in Cairo, and negotiated the acquisition of the West Esh El Mallaha Concession ("WEEM") on the west flank of the Gulf of Suez. Based on earlier experiences in Yemen it was considered that a small onshore rift basin lay parallel to the main Gulf of Suez rift and that this would prove to be a promising area for less costly onshore exploration.

Within 2 years of acquiring the rights to the WEEM Concession and following farmouts to Occidental and Cabre, the first of a number of discoveries were made. The Rabeh and West Rabeh Fields, now owned by a Lukoil affiliate, currently produce in excess of 12,000 bopd. More recently, based on the successes at WEEM and in Yemen, Rampex continued its search for Mesozoic rift basins and negotiated the rights to the Nuqra Concession in the Komombo Basin in Upper Egypt. The Komombo Basin is similar in size to the entire Gulf of Suez Rift Basin, which hosts 9.6 Billion barrels of proven recoverable oil reserves and produces over 1.0 million barrels of oil per day.

In the sub-surface, the Komombo Basin straddles the present day southern portion of the Nile Valley of Egypt. The Nuqra Concession covers an area of over 30,000 square kilometers (approximately 7.5 million acres) within this Mesozoic rift basin which contains over 4.5 kilometers of Mesozoic and younger sediments.

Drilling in the 1990's resulted in the testing of 39 API oil from Jurassic sands, confirming the similarity between the Komombo basin and the better known prolific African rift basins such as Muglad in Sudan and Doba in Chad to the south.

MEPS is cooperating with Rampex in securing partners and funding for this project which bears all the hallmarks of an overlooked rift basin - as was the WEEM Concession in the early 1990's and the Hadramaut rift in Yemen in the 1980's.