Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) will drill 50 exploration wells by 2013 in the northern Sabriyah field to explore the reservoir’s heavy oil reserves.

The exploration is part of the country’s oil production strategy, but no decision has been taken on whether the exploration stage will be followed by production at the field.

“From an exploration point of view, our plan is to drill wells in the upcoming two years, so we are talking about 2013,” says a source at the company.

Oil price fluctuations and quota considerations will determine whether it will be sensible to pursue the development of the field. Heavy oil production is expensive and producing heavy oil as part of Kuwait’s Opec quota would be more feasible at a higher price.

“The drilling is part of our 2030 strategy. But circumstances change during that time and you have to be flexible enough to move from place to place,” says the source.

KOC took the decision to drill exploration wells rather than undertake a seismic survey as the heavy oil reservoir in Sabriyah is not at a great depth, making drilling the cheaper option.

Should the field be developed, KOC will be able to commence production within eight years of completing the exploration work.

“It is our plan to expedite the process from exploration to development from 18 years to 5-8 years. So whatever discovery we are making, we are trying to send it to development between 5-8 years,” says the source.