Oil and gas projects worth about $6 billion are underway or soon to begin in Bahrain, Oil Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said yesterday.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a conference, Shaikh Mohammed said the projects include the multi-billion dollar Bapco modernisation programme, Bahrain LNG Import Terminal, Bahrain National Gas Expansion Company’s third gas plant and an aromatics facility joint venture between Bapco and Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries Corporation (PIC).
The Bapco Modernisation Programme is on track for completion in 2022, he said with the $4.2bn engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning turnkey contract awarded last month to a consortium led by TechnipFMC. The signing of the contract is expected shortly, he added.
The programme entails the expansion of the capacity of the existing Sitra oil refinery from 267,000 up to 360,000 barrels per day (bpd) besides improving energy efficiency, valorisation of the heavy part of the crude oil barrel (bottom of the barrel), enhancing products and meeting environmental compliance.
The minster also said Bahrain is looking for more partners to develop the Bahrain oilfield, which was exited by Mubadala and Occidental Petroleum in 2016.
The National Oil and Gas Authority (Noga) this year will complete major projects, including the new 350,000 bpd pipeline (A-B) between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia that will replace the existing 230,000 bpd link, the minister said in his inaugural address to the second Middle East Refining Technology Conference (MERTC) at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain.
“More than 50 per cent of the construction and modernisation of the pipeline has been completed and the pipeline is now being laid underground in the south of Bahrain. The project is moving steadily according to plan and budget,” he said.
Shaikh Mohammed said the oil sector in the kingdom is currently working out a clear strategy for involving the private sector in the implementation and management of the oil projects, citing the case of Bahrain LNG Import Terminal, which is being developed in partnership with the private sector (with a consortium of Teekay, GIC and Samsung).
The minister stressed the need for more investments and advanced technology and engineering solutions to the various challenges facing the refining industry. As a result of population growth and increased demand for energy, there was a need for further efforts to strengthen co-operation between the refining industry and technology companies.
This represents a challenge for technology companies to devise creative solutions that will help refining companies enhance operational efficiency and improve financial returns.
It was also vital to take full advantage of technological solutions available to rationalise operational expenditure in this sector, he added.
Talking about the oil price, the minister said Bahrain’s last budget was drawn up based on the price of $55 a barrel, while prices today are closer to $70 a barrel, which is a positive sign.
“However, expectations remain unclear as such.”
Organised under the patronage of the minister, by the World Refining Association in collaboration with Noga and support from Gulf Downstream Association (GDA), MERTC has seen participation from more than 450 experts, specialists and managers representing national, regional and global oil companies as well as those interested in refining technology in technical, research and academic institutions.
Shaikh Mohammed praised efforts by WRA and others supporting the conference, which, he said, was essential to review the latest developments in refining technology.
He said Noga is keen to implement the directives of Bahrain’s leadership towards reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in various sectors and the implementation of the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in 2020.
“Noga has laid great emphasis within its strategy on the subject of climate change, in view of the fact that the oil is one of the sectors most affected by it,” said the minister.
International and regional oil companies including Bapco, Sabic, Kuwait National Petroleum Company, Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and PIC are supporting the event.
The conference will conclude today after two days of discussions on: Strategic projects aimed at raising the level of refineries; management of carbon emissions; optimal developmental research; commercialisation and integration opportunities in refining and petrochemicals; regional projects for talent development and investment strategies.