Kuwait planning gas production by 2008

By Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Nov 21 -- Kuwait, which in March announced the discovery of 35 tcf of free natural gas and a large quantity of light oil in what it called its "northern oil fields," plans to start commercial production of gas late next year or early January 2008, according to Farouk al-Zanki, head of state-owned Kuwait Oil Co. (KOC).

At an oil and gas conference in Kuwait City, al-Zanki said the firm expects an initial output of 180 MMcfd, which it would increase to 600 MMcfd by 2011 and to 1 bcfd by 2014-15.

Al-Zanki said KOC would have a provisional plan for natural gas development by the end of November or in early December.

He said the company is searching for more gas in five exploration sites in the same region, which he did not name. It needs gas for its desalination plants and for a planned large refinery.

Al-Zanki also repeated an earlier commitment to increase Kuwait's oil production capacity to 3 million b/d by 2010, to 3.5 million b/d by 2015, and 4 million b/d by 2020 from the current 2.6 million b/d.

Dorra field exploration
In January, Kuwait said it also planned to start exploration for natural gas in what it called undisputed parts of offshore Dorra field, which Iran also claims. At the time, Kuwait's energy ministry undersecretary Issa al-Oun told the Al-Siyassah newspaper: "Talks with Iran are continuing over the continental shelf. But, we have decided to ... start exploration in the undisputed part."

Oun said Kuwait would soon invite bids for seismic surveys of part of Dorra field and other Kuwaiti offshore fields. He said he did not expect Iran to object to the measure.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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