In 2012, Bahrain marked the 80th anniversary of the start of oil production, but due to its depleted fields, the Gulf state has been a minor player for many decades now.

Production from the Abu Saafah field is shared with Saudi Arabia and the offshore asset is operated by Saudi Aramco. Bahrain’s share usually averages 150,000 barrels a day (b/d), although that nudged above 160,000 b/d in 2013.

Active market

Oil production at the onshore Bahrain Field averaged 75,000 b/d in the 1970s, but this has since dropped to about 33,000 b/d. However, the country’s upstream projects market is still very active and several schemes are being planned in an attempt to ramp up oil and gas production.

Major investment is expected in enhanced oil recovery as spending is increased at the Bahrain Field. Techniques such as waterflooding and steam injection, along with the drilling of 900 new wells, are expected to triple oil production from the field to 100,000 b/d, as well as provide 2 billion cubic feet a day of gas by the end of the decade.

Major oil and gas projects
Project Client Status Value ($m) End date
Liquefied natural gas train 3 Banagas Study 1,000 2018
Sitra liquefied petroleum gas treating project Bapco Execution 8 2014
For further information visit www.meed.com/meedprojects

Most of the extra oil production will come from the shallowest reservoirs in the Bahrain Field, with the heavier grades of oil becoming easier to extract through steam injection.

Tatweer Petroleum is the operator of the field and is a joint venture between Bahrain’s National Oil & Gas Authority (Noga), the US’ Occidental Petroleum and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Petroleum. While no specific tenders have been released for upgrade works, the budget is expected to be several billion dollars.

Drilling work

Gas production is also a vital component of development at the Bahrain Field and Noga is planning to begin drilling operations for its deep gas initiative by the end of 2014.

The well will be drilled at the Khuff reservoir and will be 8,000-10,000 feet deep. Khuff is the second-deepest reservoir in the Bahrain Field with only Tawil, at 13,000 feet, further underground.

Noga has stated that if the gas can be extracted at an affordable price, then it will be pursued as a serious option. However, unconventional gas resources are not cheap and are traditionally much more difficult to exploit than conventional reserves.

The energy security that developing domestic gas assets brings is only matched by the attractive financial benefits of exporting crude oil when global prices are above $100 a barrel. Bahrain’s two-pronged strategy offers solutions to many of the challenges facing Manama.

Minister of oil and gas: Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalifa

Key contact: National Oil & Gas Authority (Noga)

Tel: (+973) 1 731 2644

Web: www.noga.gov.bh