The bulk of the OPEC supply increase will come from the Middle East and North Africa. Of its non-regional members, only Nigeria’s production is on an upward trajectory: Venezuela and Indonesia are both struggling to maintain current output levels.

The Middle East’s producers are investing substantial chunks of the windfall revenues earned from more than three years of soaring oil prices to boost capacity, increasing their own future share of the pie, while at the same time heeding consumer calls for more spare capacity (see table).

In keeping with its role as OPEC’s kingpin and the world’s sole remaining swing producer, Saudi Arabia’s capacity expansion programme is by far the most ambitious. Riyadh has a stated aim of raising capacity to at least 12.5 million b/d by 2010 from about 11 million b/d and the projects to meet the goal are well under way. The 500,000-b/d Abu Hadriyah, Fadhili and Khursaniyah (AFK) oil fields development is entering the construction phase, the first packages are out to bid on the 1.2 million-b/d Khurais and the 250,000-300,000-b/d Shaybah field expansions and preparations are under way for the 100,000-b/d Nuayyim field development.

The UAE has also recently set in stone testing targets: in November, Energy Minister Mohammed bin Dhaen al-Hamli announced that capacity would be increased to 3.5 million b/d over the next few years – up from about 2.6 million b/d today and from the 3 million b/d previously talked of. Again, several schemes to accomplish this are in motion, the biggest being the 200,000-b/d expansion of the Upper Zakum field, to be implemented with the help of US giant ExxonMobil Corporation. Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco) also plans to boost production from its acreage by up to 400,000 b/d. However, with the company’s concession expiring in less than a decade, the foreign partners – as elsewhere in the region – are likely to demand an extension before committing to the hefty investment.

Kuwait is aiming for 3.2 million b/d by 2010, up from 2.6 million b/d today, and 4 million b/d by 2020. Part of that will be accounted for by the delayed start-up of the Rawdhatain gathering centre, adding about 200,000 b/d. However, the bulk of the increase is due to come from the long-awaited Project Kuwait, which will enlist international oil companies (IOCs) to raise output from the four northern oil fields by 370,000 b/d. The initiative suffered another setback in late December when the National Assembly (parliament) voted to withdraw the economy and finance committee’s report just weeks before members of parliament (MPs) were due to vote on it.

Also bogged down in politics are Iran’s plans to increase capacity, with the fate of many projects even more uncertain since the election of President Ahmadinejad. His fourth nominee as oil minister, Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh, was eventually accepted in December by the Majlis (parliament). The appointment was followed in January by a major shake-up in state-owned oil companies. Large-scale capacity enhancements are planned at the Azadegan, Bangestan and Aghajari fields, but both Azadegan and Bangestan are suffering serious delays. Given that output is currently in decline, Tehran’s stated aim of raising output by 1.5 million b/d to 5.4 million b/d by 2010 looks, to say the least, challenging.

OPEC observer Oman is more openly combating declining production, which fell to about 770,000 b/d in