ChevronTexaco to Start Drilling Bahrain's Offshore Area for Oil and Gas

ChevronTexaco Corp., one of the world's largest energy companies, is planning to begin exploratory drilling for oil and gas in Bahrain's eastern offshore area later this year, company officials said Monday.

"We have a commitment to drill and we will go ahead with it, hopefully in September," said Andy Norman, an international relations officer at the ChevronTexaco London office.

"We are hopeful that we will find commercial quantities of hydrocarbons," Norman told The Associated Press on the sidelines of an international geosciences conference and exhibition in Manama.

The three-day GEO 2002 conference has attracted about 1,200 delegates, including exploration experts, and 105 exhibitors from 16 countries around the world.

Bahrain's government said last September that it had accepted the offers from U.S. oil company Texaco and Malaysia's Petronas for offshore oil and gas exploration and production.

Chevron and Texaco merged last October to form ChevronTexaco Corp. with the headquarters in San Francisco.

A seismic survey had been completed in recent years to determine the potential areas for drilling, said Kevin Kveton, ChevronTexaco's exploration manager in Bahrain.

But the analysis of the survey is still ongoing, he said.

The three licensed areas lie in the eastern offshore areas in the territorial waters of Bahrain, Kveton said, without disclosing the precise areas where the drilling will take place.

ChevronTexaco will explore one of the three areas. The exploration of the other two will be conducted by Petronas, he said.

The Bahrain government sought bids from international companies following a ruling by the International Court of Justice in March, which resolved a 62-year-old maritime border dispute with Qatar.

Kveton said that the project was still in its very early stages, but that he was optimistic that if commercial quantities of hydrocarbons were to be found the time frame for developing an offshore field could be carried out over a short period of time.

"Due to close proximity of oil facilities on the island of Bahrain, this should allow for accelerated development of any commercial discovery," he said.

Bahrain produces about 37,000 crude oil barrels a day and receives an additional 140,000 barrels a day from the offshore Abu Safa field it shares with Saudi Arabia.

"We are pleased to continue our long history of activity in Bahrain with this new exploration activity," Kveton added.

Chevron was the company that first discovered oil in Bahrain. Bahrain's first oil well was drilled in 1932, the first discovery of oil in the Gulf.