Industry observers are casting doubts over Kuwait?s claim that it will soon start producing its first meaningful quantities of non-associated gas.

State upstream operator Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) said in early October that it was on schedule to produce 175 million cubic feet a day (cf/d) from two northern oil fields by the end of 2007.

However, observers claim it is unclear how, where or by whom the gas is being produced.

The confusion stems from a sudden announcement in 2006 of the discovery of the state?s first onshore non-associated gas reserves. The find amounted to 35 trillion cubic feet, according to KOC, which worked with US? Schlumberger on the gas find.

?Over time it has become clear that this figure was extrapolated from very few exploratory wells, and maybe as little as just one well,? says one Kuwait-based oil executive. ?It is hard to see how this figure was reached.?

In 2006, Farouk al-Zanki, chairman and managing director of KOC, said gas would be produced from the early production facilities (EPF) projects. However, only one phase of the EPF schemes, which produces just 35 million cf/d of gas associated with heavy sour crude production (MEED 3:11:06),

is under way.

Bids for a second phase are under evaluation, but this will only add an additional 80 million cf/d, and not before the end of the first quarter of 2008 at the earliest. No other gas production projects have been identified and no tender is known to have been issued for work to produce

the gas.

The new gas is destined for local consumption to fuel the state?s power plants. The original plan was for the new gas to be diverted directly to the planned Subiya power plant, but a dedicated gas feedstock pipeline is instead being built from the Mina al-Ahmadi refinery, which processes most of the state?s associated gas production (MEED 16:2:07).

KOC was not available for comment.