BG overseas arm to invest £300m in Tunisian offshore oil and gas

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The Independent Online

BG International, the overseas arm of BG, which is to be demerged from the rest of the group later this year, yesterday announced a $450m (£300m) investment in Tunisia.

The company said that the move underlined the rationale for the demerger. Peter Crumpler, a spokesman for BG, said: "This is an example of the strong growth trends that we see in our international markets. It shows that we have two successful companies and that is why we decided that each should develop separately."

BG International is to invest the funds in offshore fields, over nine years. It will develop the Hasdrubal gas and condensate discovery, extend the Miskar gas field and undertake further exploration in Tunisia.

Most of the investment will go on Hasdrubal, which contains recoverable volumes of about 260 billion cubic feet of gas and 25 million barrels of condensate, a light oil.

The Miskar field, which currently supplies over 65 per cent of Tunisia's total daily gas demand, will expand from 168 million to 200 million standard cubic feet of gas per day by 2001.

David Varney, chief executive of BG, said: "BG has entered into a long-term relationship with the Tunisian authorities and is committed to supply a substantial segment of Tunisia's gas needs to 2020." The company said it was also looking at other gas investment opportunities in Tunisia. This could include power generation and vehicles which run on gas. BG said last July that it would invest £5bn in international operations over the next five years.

Last week the company announced first quarter profits at BG International had jumped from £90m to £184m.

It will be demerged from its UK domestic and telecoms operation following a shareholder meeting this autumn and there has been speculation that Shell may make a bid.