Abu Dhabi joins quest for heavy oil

Joint venture with US company aims to access Bahraini field

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MANAMA // Abu Dhabi has joined the vanguard of technically challenging efforts to develop the Middle East's vast heavy-oil potential through its Government-owned Mubadala Development. Mubadala is a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government and part of a joint venture aiming to boost output from Bahrain's only oilfield.

The development will be among the first to unlock output from an estimated 1 trillion barrels of largely untapped regional heavy oil resources, officials said yesterday. "If anyone still doubts that heavy oil is part of the future, I can testify that it is here in Bahrain," the Gulf state's oil minister Abdulhussain Mirza said in his opening remarks to the Heavy Oil World MENA 2010 conference in Manama, the capital.

This year, Bahrain's National Oil and Gas Authority, of which Mr Mirza is the chairman, signed an agreement with Mubadala and the US oil group Occidental Petroleum to establish Tatweer Petroleum as a joint venture to develop the Bahrain field. The oilfield, also called Awali, was the first discovered in the Gulf, in 1932. It produces 32,000 barrels per day (bpd) currently, which could be doubled or tripled by applying advanced oil recovery technology and developing parts of the field containing heavy crude, Mr Mirza said.