Bahrain kicks off offshore drilling
Bahrain's National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) announced on June 23 that it had begun drilling a first exploration well at the offshore Block 1 with its Italian partner Eni.
The well will be sunk as per an exploration and production agreement that the two companies signed in 2019. Block 1 spans 2,800 km2 in waters between 10 and 70 m deep.
Drilling is expected to continue for several months, Bahrain's oil minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa commented. It had been due to start in 2020, but was delayed on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bahrain has been promoting offshore exploration since the discovery in 2018 off the Khaleej al-Bahrain shale oilfield off its west coast. Khaleej al-Bahrain was hailed as the country's largest oil and gas find since 1932, estimated to contain at least 80bn barrels of tight oil.
The government is still seeking foreign investment to develop Khaleej al-Bahrain. But it aims to start drilling the first production wells in 2022. Bahrain's only source of domestic oil production currently is the onshore Awali field.
Finding offshore gas would also be a significant boon for the kingdom, which wants to expand gas use to support economic growth. Bahrain produced 17bn m3 of gas in 2019, and has built an LNG terminal to import more supplies, although the facility remains inactive. The country is also weighing up options to develop the onshore Pre-Unayzah gas deposit, also discovered in 2018 and understood to contain up to 570bn m3 in reserves.