BP has signed an agreement with the Egyptian Minister of Petroleum Tarek El Molla to accelerate development of its 100%-owned Atoll gas field in offshore Egypt.

Located in the North Damietta offshore concession in the East Nile Delta, the field was announced in March.

As part of the agreement, BP plans to extract from an estimated 1.5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas resources as well as 31 million barrels (mmbbl) of condensates in the field to the domestic market.

Production from the field is expected to start in 2018.

"This agreement will bring additional production to Egyptian domestic market and help to meet Egypt’s energy demands."

BP Group chief executive Bob Dudley said: "We are pleased to be making rapid progress towards the development of Atoll less than eight months after the announcement of its discovery.

"This is further demonstration of our continued confidence in Egypt, a key growth area for BP, and our commitment to continue to invest to unlock its energy potential."

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Atoll field development will comprise two phases. In the initial phase two development wells would be tied back to existing infrastructure and production is slated to occur in 2018.

BP North Africa regional president Hesham Mekawi said: "Today’s agreement, which will bring additional production to the Egyptian domestic market and help to meet Egypt’s energy demands, is another important milestone for BP in Egypt following our recently announced West Nile Delta major project."

Pharaonic Petroleum (PhPC) will execute and operate the Atoll development with EGAS and Eni.

In March, BP announced the discovery of gas in the North Damietta offshore concession in the East Nile Delta.

The Atoll-1 deepwater exploration well, which was drilled using the semi-submersible rig Maersk Discoverer, reached 6,400m in depth and penetrated around 50m of gas pay in Oligocene sandstones.