Big oil to boost Manama capacity

15 November 2007

International oil companies (IOCs) are pledging to double the capacity of Bahrain’s onshore Awali oil field to 70,000 barrels a day (b/d) and boost gas production to 2,000 million cubic feet a day (cf/d).

Eight bids were received on 1 November for a major revamp of Bahrain’s onshore field from majors including ExxonMobil Corporation and Occidental Petroleum of the US, and Denmark’s Maersk Oil.

Oil & Gas Minister Abdul-hussain bin Ali Mirza tells MEED several of the companies bidding have given estimates of target production levels. “Our current Awali production is 35,000 b/d and from what we have seen [from company proposals] this amount can be doubled,” he says.

Ali Mirza says hopes are high that the gas production of 1,200 million cf/d can be raised to 2,000 million cf/d. Any excess supplies will be set aside for domestic consumption.

Mirza says one or more companies will be recommended to the National Oil & Gas Authority before the end of November.

“We have to evaluate which of the eight companies have given us the best deal,” says Mirza. “We may recommend more than one company depending on what they have to offer.”

An executive from one of the firms that submitted a bid says technological expertise is expected to play an important part in the overall bid.

“It is not a matter of ploughing into the field and simply doubling production,” the executive says.

“We are trying to revitalise one of the oldest fields in the Gulf, so it will not be easy but I think production can get a lot higher than where it currently is.”

In addition to Exxon, Occidental and Maersk, bids were received from Canada’s Verenex Energy, the UK’s Vitol, Thailand’s PTT Exploration, the US’ Consortium Bankers Petroleum and the Dutch Delta Hydrocarbons.

Mirza says Manama recently held reciprocal talks in Tehran over a gas import deal after exploratory discussions in Bahrain in early September. Bahrain hopes to secure up to 1,000 million cf/d from Iran, he adds.

“Our technical team has been over there and we hope to progress this plan further before the end of the year,” he says.

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