State-owned Kuwait Gulf Oil Company has appointed Australia’s WorleyParsons to draw up a four-month study for the offshore Dorra gas field.

It is expected the gas from the field will be used by Kuwait in domestic power generation and production of petrochemicals.

The work so far has been preparation, rather than a definite sign that the disputed field is to be developed, says the source.

“The aim of the study is to determine the cost and most appropriate processing facilities for about 1.5 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d), although the volume of gas has still to be finalised,” says a source close to the scheme.

Before the field can be developed, Al-Khafji Joint Operations (KJO), the Saudi/Kuwaiti operator which works in the Divided Zone between the two countries, will commission a full feed study and later appoint an engineering, procurement and construction contractor. KJO appointed two unnamed international engineering and design firms in early 2010 to work on a full-field development plan for the reservoir (MEED 26:2:10).

KJO is jointly run by Kuwait Gulf Oil Company and Saudi Arabia’s Aramco Gulf Operations Company, both subsidiaries of their respective national oil companies, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and Saudi Aramco.

Most of Kuwait’s gas production currently comes from associated reservoirs, where gas is produced as part of the process of pumping oil. Kuwait’s development of its gas deposits in the north of the country estimated at 32 trillion cubic feet, roughly half of the country’s total, have progressed slowly. Overall, KPC wants to produce more than 1 billion cf/d of non-associated gas by 2015.

The gas at Dorra is non-associated, meaning it will be produced independently of oil, but it has been a source of controversy since the 1960s. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran all claim to have rights to the field. Negotiations are ongoing between Kuwait and Iran to solve maritime boundary issues over the field.

Kuwait needs short-term solutions to supply itself with gas, while it waits for the stalemate to end. It even held talks with Iran in 2008 over potential gas imports using an underwater pipeline.