Kuwait Discovers New Oil, Gas Field; On the Prowl for More

DUBAI (Zawya Dow Jones), Dec. 23, 2009

Kuwait has discovered a new oil and gas field and is exploring for more as the OPEC producer seeks to boost its crude output capacity by about 27% to 4 million barrels of oil a day by 2020, a senior oil official said in comments carried by state-run Kuwait News Agency late Tuesday.

The new field in northwest of Kuwait had an estimated initial output capacity of 80,000 barrels per day of light crude and 110 million cubic feet of gas a day, Sami Al Rushaid, chairman and managing director of state-run Kuwait Oil Co. or KOC said.

"We are preparing to drill for wells to test the promising levels of this field," Al Rushaid said.

KOC has developed 58% of overall reservoirs discovered so far, helping Kuwait reach a current oil output capacity of 3.15 million barrels of oil a day, Al Rushaid said.

Kuwait, which sits on about 10% of the world's global oil reserves, plans to raise its oil output capacity to 4 million barrels of oil a day by 2020 through developing heavy oil fields and boosting production from a divided zone shared with Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait produced about 2.25 million barrels of oil a day in November, making it OPEC's fifth-largest oil producer, according to a Dow Jones survey.

KOC plans to produce 1 billion cubic feet a day of non-associated gas by 2015, up from about 140 million cubic feet a day now, in addition to Kuwait's current production of 1 billion cubic feet a day of associated gas, Al Rushaid said.

Kuwait's plans to increase its oil output capacity have been delayed due to opposition from several members of the country's influential parliament to the involvement of international oil companies in producing oil in the Gulf state.

Kuwait's constitution bans international oil companies from owning the country's reserves.

Several Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, kicked out international oil companies from their production projects following independence and the nationalization of their oil industry.

International Help

Kuwait still intends to seek the help of international oil companies to produce heavy oil in the country, which is difficult to pump, Hashem Hashem, KOC's deputy managing director for South and East Kuwait told Kuwait News Agency late Tuesday.

International oil companies were supposed to be involved in helping Kuwait boost oil production from heavy oil fields in the north under Project Kuwait to 900,000 barrels of oil a day by 2005 from about 450,000 barrels a day in 2000, but the project was never approved by parliament.

KOC is relying on its own expertise and technical service agreements to boost heavy oil production from the northern fields, which currently stands at 650,000 barrels of oil a day to 800,000 barrels of oil a day, Hashem said.

KOC plans to raise the northern fields heavy oil production to 800,000 barrels of oil by the first half of 2010 and to 900,000 barrels of oil a day by 2012, Hashem said.

Kuwait's total oil output capacity, including production from the shared zone with Saudi Arabia, will reach 3.3 million barrels of oil a day in the first half of 2010, Hashem added.

The 4 million-barrel-a-day oil output capacity target by 2020 includes 3.65 million barrels a day of production from KOC and the remainder from the divided zone with Saudi Arabia, he added.

KOC also plans to boost its production of non-associated gas to 600 million cubic feet a day by 2012 and expects the awarding of contracts for this project to be announced in April 2010, Hashem added.

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