PROJECTS are going ahead in all areas of the Kuwaiti oil industry. These are aimed at adding both capacity and value to Kuwait’s main source of revenue in the face of low crude oil prices.

Upstream, Kuwait is moving to install new production capacity to meet the anticipated growth in demand for Kuwaiti oil, which is projected to reach 3 million barrels a day (b/d) by 2005. At present, the country has an installed capacity of 2.5 million b/d, which should be sufficient to the end of the century. Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) plans to diversify away from the huge Burgan field to develop capacity in other areas in the north and west of the country.

The main project is the $400 million western oil fields scheme to install gathering centres 27 and 28 in the Minagish and Umm Gudair fields. The three-year project will raise the production capacity of the fields nearly fivefold to 500,000 b/d from 110,000 b/d. The award of the scheme is being decided by the Supreme Petroleum Council with China Petroleum Engineering Construction Company widely expected to take the construction contract.

Kuwait’s downstream oil industry is also developing rapidly. The country’s refining capacity returned to its pre-invasion levels in July 1994, and attention has now turned to expansions and upgrades. Several projects have been awarded recently and other bids are under evaluation.

Other huge prospects are presented by the Equate Shuaiba petrochemical complex, the joint venture of the US’ Union Carbide and the local Petrochemical Industries Company. The grassroots scheme could entail a total investment of about $2,000 million. Negotiations are under way with the US’ Brown & Root to install the main ethane cracker and five companies have bid to supply an ethylene glycol plant.