State upstream operator Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) is yet to decide on whether to proceed with plans for offshore oil and gas exploration outside the Divided Zone in the Gulf.

Offshore exploration could still be part of the Gulf state’s 2030 plan for the oil sector, but it is unclear when it will proceed, said a source close to the company, speaking to MEED on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (Adipec).

“KOC and KPC [state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation] are still undecided about how to proceed with offshore exploration. There are some that argue there is enough work to be done onshore before looking at offshore studies,” says the source.

Kuwait’s offshore oil and fields are all located in the Divided Zone with Saudi Arabia. Production from the offshore Khafji and Hout fields is conducted by Khafji Joint Operations (KJO), a joint venture of Kuwait Gulf Oil Company (KGOC) and Saudi Arabia’s Aramco Gulf Operations Company.

Fayez al-Mezel, a senior planner at KOC, reaffirmed to delegates at Adipec that under the 2030 strategy, set by KPC in 2008, Kuwait is targeting an increase in total oil production capacity to 4 million barrels a day (b/d), from about 3 million b/d today.

But along with the increase in production capacity, KOC is also seeking to replace its reserves through further exploration and better reservoir management techniques.

“For each oil barrel KOC produces, we will have to replace it with new reserves,” says Al-Mezel.

Heavy oil exploration is already planned for 2013 in the Sabriyah field in the north of Kuwait. Exploration will begin with the drilling of 50 new wells and any discoveries could lead to development within five to eight years.