Bahrain to Shortlist Companies for 4 Oil Blocks by End-May

RIYADH May 02, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

The government of Bahrain will announce by the end of May a shortlist of pre-qualified companies to bid for oil exploration licenses in the country's first offshore blocks, Oil Minister Abdul Husain Mirza said Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 2nd Asian ministerial energy roundtable meeting in Riyadh, Mirza, who is also chairman of the National Oil & Gas Authority, said 70 international oil companies had expressed an initial interest in the four offshore blocks on offer.

"We will shortlist these companies by the end of May, and will invite them to the project's data room," the minister said.

The pre-qualified companies will then have to submit their bids before the end of September. The government will evaluate the bids and expects to select the winner by the end of the year, Mirza said.

Bahrain is offering four offshore blocks with a combined area of 8,000 square kilometers. Bahrain currently produces 37,000 barrels of oil a day, enough for its domestic consumption.

Mirza also said Bahrain in talks with the neighboring Saudi Arabia to build a replacement pipeline to carry Saudi crude to Bahraini refineries. The existing pipeline was built in 1945 and can carry 220,000 barrels a day of oil, he said. He didn't say what the planned capacity of a new pipeline might be.

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

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.