Bahrain discovers huge oil and gas reserves

The new find contains as much as Russia’s overall oil reserves

Bahrain discovers huge oil and gas reserves Photo: U.S. Department of State

Last week, Bahrain announced a discovery containing at least 80 billion barrels of tight oil and 10-20 trillion cubic feet of deep gas. The remarkable find can make the small non-OPEC oil producer a significant player in the global oil market. However, it is still unclear how much of these impressive reserves are recoverable.

A new discovery off the west coast of Bahrain is estimated to contain at least 80 billion barrels of tight oil, reports Reuters. The kingdom's Minister of Oil Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa named the discovery ''the kingdom's biggest ever find''. According to independent appraisals by oil consultants DeGolyer and MacNaughton and oilfield services company Halliburton, Bahrain has discovered ''highly significant quantities of oil in place… with tight oil amounting to at least 80 billion barrels, and deep gas reserves in the region of 10-20 trillion cubic feet''. It is not clear yet how much of the estimated reserves are recoverable.

Bahrain is planning to attract foreign oil and gas companies to develop the resources. Halliburton is supposed to start drilling on two appraisal wells in 2018 to further evaluate reservoir potential and initiate long-term production. The kingdom's officials expected that production on the new deposit would start within five years and ''provide significant and long-term positive benefits to the kingdom's economy – both directly and indirectly through downstream activities in related industries'', Bahrain's National Communication Centre said in a statement.

Before discovery, Bahrain possessed around 124,6 million barrels of proven oil reserves. Photo: jdl_deleon

Although the discovery is definitely positive for Bahrain, more data gathering, evaluation and well testing are needed to determine whether there are any future commercial opportunities in the resources, considers former senior executive at Saudi Aramco and industry expert Sadad Al Husseini. ''Converting resource estimates to reserves is an intense and costly process, and not all the resources may ultimately be upgraded to reserves,'' he commented.

Currently, Bahrain's proven oil reserves amount to 124,6 million barrels. The country has two main oil producing fields: onshore Bahrain field, which produced about 50,000 bpd in 2015, and offshore Abu Safah field with 300,000 bpd of crude output. The latter is shared jointly with Saudi Arabia, production is overseen by Saudi Aramco. The new field's output is expected to be around 200,000 bpd, according to Chairman of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee Abdulrahman Buali.

Last year, the kingdom's oil and gas revenue totalled $4,3 billion, while budget deficit reached $2,7 billion. Bahrain has ''junk'' credit ratings from all three major rating agencies.

By Anna Litvina