Kuwait begins operation at large heavy oil project

The Opec producer plans to raise overall capacity to 4 million bpd by 2040

A tanker truck drives through two pools of industrial waste in a remote site of Wafra, 100 KM north of Kuwait City on June 13, 2010. (Photo:Gustavo Ferrari/The National)
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Kuwait kicked off operations at a heavy oil project - the country's largest - as it looks to raise production capacity to 4 million barrels per day by 2040.

The project is located in the north of the country, the Kuwait Oil Company said in a statement, without providing additional details.

Kuwait, the fourth-largest producer within Opec, has been looking to develop the Ratqa field in the north, which was contracted to oil services firm Petrofac in 2015. The KOC statement did not specify which field was being considered for development.

The $4.2 billion (Dh15.4bn) engineering, procurement, and construction contract for the Ratqa field that was awarded to Petrofac is expected to boost production to 60,000 barrels per day in the first phase, with plans to double capacity eventually.

Kuwait, which is part of the Opec+ alliance to restrict production revised its earlier plans to raise production capacity to 4.75 million bpd by 2040 to 4 million bpd.

Earlier this month, the country and neighbouring Saudi Arabia agreed to re-start production at the Neutral Zone along their border. The onshore Wafra and offshore Khafji fields will reach their full capacity of 500,000 bpd by year-end, with exports expected to flow within three months.

The fields' output of largely heavy, sour crude could be welcome for the markets as a replacement for Iranian and Venezuelan oil, both of which are in short supply due to US sanctions.

Kuwait's additional heavy oil output will be fed into the country's planned 615,000 bpd Al Zour refinery, which will be the largest refinery in the Middle East when completed.

The refining complex, which is expected to be commissioned in mid-2020, will supply 225,000 bpd of low-sulphur fuel oil to the domestic power sector and will also produce jet fuel, kerosene and naphtha feedstock for chemical plants. The new refinery will account for 43 per cent of the country's refining capacity once completed.