Bahrain to Invite International Companies to Explore Six Blocks

SYDNEY Aug 28, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires)

The Bahrain government is to invite international oil companies in late 2006 or early 2007 to carry out exploration work on six offshore blocks, Minister of State Abdul-Hussain Ali Mirza said.

"We are analyzing the seismic data, along with the data collected from the exploration wells in these six blocks," Mirza, who is also chairman of the National Oil & Gas Authority of Bahrain, told Zawya Dow Jones in a telephone interview Sunday.

"We may change the number of blocks before the end of the year," Mirza said. "We will prepare the dossiers, and will make them available to oil companies."

The government has received some offers and proposals from companies to start exploration efforts but no tangible offers have been presented so far, said Mirza, who will chair the tender selection board. He didn't identify the interested firms.

Bahrain produces 37,000 barrels of oil a day, enough for its domestic consumption.

Mirza also said Bahrain's refinery development project was on schedule and he expects the 260,000 barrels-a-day refinery to be completed in the first quarter of 2007.

Crude oil for the refinery will come mainly from Saudi Arabia. A subsea pipeline linking the two kingdoms transports 220,000 barrels of crude oil, with the remaining 37,000 barrels produced by Bahrain.

The minister said the country was open for international oil companies to build a new refinery. "We will need the interested company to guarantee crude oil input," he said.

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia share the Abu Sa'fah offshore field which produces 300,000 barrels per day, 150,000 for each country. Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, sells that crude oil on the international market and both countries share the revenue.

Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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