Norway firm to drill offshore UAE gas well

Atlantis, a unit of Norway's Petroleum Geo-Services, has started drilling an exploratory offshore gas well in the United Arab Emirates under a concession signed in 1999, a company official said yesterday. Drilling operations started earlier this month in the northern emirate of Umm Al Quwain after Atlantis conducted seismic studies last year, the official told Reuters. Umm Al Quwain-3 well in the Gulf is the first drilled by Atlantis under the concession signed in December 1999, he said. The UAE's news agency WAM said production was expected to start in the second half of 2002. It said the gas field has reserves of 500 billion cubic feet. Two earlier wells, Umm al-Quwain-1 and Umm Al Quwain-2, were drilled in 1976 and 1977 respectively, WAM said. An industry source said operations to bring the field to production had started recently because of increasing demand for gas in the UAE.