Under the terms of the deal, which is due to be finalised by next summer, Exxon will assist in the long-term production of up to 700,000 barrels a day (b/d) of heavy oil from the lower Fars reservoir, part of the northern Ratqa field. The precise details of the deal remain unclear, although the scheme is likely to be integrated with midstream blending and upgrading, and downstream refining and chemical elements. Given KOC’s lack of expertise with heavy oil marketing, Exxon is likely to take on that role too. The project will build on the lower Fars pilot project, for which bid evaluation is under way. The pilot scheme, aimed at testing the potential of removing sand and other solids from heavy oil deposits, will result in five 200-500-b/d wells being drilled (MEED 7:9:07). KOC says the Exxon deal will be developed through its new enhanced technical services agreement framework, which ensures it does not require parliamentary approval. However, many observers in Kuwait consider the framework as a technical services agreement in name only, likening it much more to an operating services agreement. Moreover, Exxon does not normally sign technical services agreements, and industry observers in the state say the oil major is looking to gain equity in the midstream and downstream elements of the scheme. Kuwait’s constitution prohibits foreign ownership of the state’s natural resources. KOC is believed to be working on three other enhanced technical services agreements: with the UK/Dutch Shell Group on deep gas development, with the UK’s BP on enhanced oil recovery techniques, and with the US’ Chevron Corporate.