Today we're going out into the Moroccan desert to evaluate shale gas fields here. It's early morning, and I am now awaiting my "ride."
They tell me his name is Saad, which means "happiness" in Arabic. Seems a strange name for what I'm still hoping is a Jeep.
Nonetheless, I have a few moments before he shows up to reflect on my government meetings in the capital city of Rabat.
This is an impressive city, with large areas of greenery and beautiful gardens. It also boasts one of the largest palace grounds I have ever seen.
Our meetings dealt with setting the legislative and regulatory agenda for shale gas development in the country. Morocco has been exploiting shale oil for more than a decade, but the gas is new. And it's creating some problems for the existing Oil Law.
If all goes according to schedule, the first evaluation wells will be spud over the next few months. That means there is little time left, before drilling starts, to establish the production, environmental, and royalty/profit ground rules.
One thing, however, is already apparent – both here and elsewhere internationally: Having a known volume of gas in the ground is one thing; being able to provide the working structure necessary to exploit it is quite another.
Without Infrastructure, Field Development Will Languish
Yesterday I traveled some 1,250 kilometers round trip, between Agadir in the south and the capital city of Rabat (north of Casablanca).
It's a 16-hour train ride, all told. But the trip would have been much more difficult only a year ago. That's because the new 250-kilometer extension of the motorway between Agadir and Marrakech is barely one year old.