Kuwait Energy to expand across region

Kuwait Energy will continue to expand this year, according to chief executive Sara Akbar.

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Kuwait Energy will continue to expand this year, according to the chief executive Sara Akbar.

"We have big development plans for our existing assets," said Ms Akbar.

"This is our year for exploring and more development. A number of projects we have had in the pipeline will go into execution phase."

She added, however, that the company was yet to make a decision about whether a public share sale would go ahead.

The company currently operates in eight countries and forecasts its staff numbers will swell to 880 from 550 over the course of this year.

The company expects to start exploration of Block 9 in Iraq's southern Basra province. It has already developed two assets in Iraq, but this is its first exploring from scratch.

The Iraqi government is expected to approve the contract on January 27.

Drilling is also about to start in Egypt's Mesaha Block. Kuwait Energy has held this asset for some time, but explorations have only recently yielded success there.

"We are drilling an exploratory well now and we hope that will give us more information about the basin," said Ms Akbar. The company has five assets in Egypt, three of which are already producing. In Yemen, exploration will start in Block 49 and drilling in Block 43.

Last year, the company won the bid to enter into talks with the Afghan government to explore and develop two blocks in the Afghan-Tajik Basin in the north of the country.

"It's a very well-known basin that has yielded good results in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan," said Ms Akbar.

"Recently the government did a seismic survey and we see good potential there."

With its experience in Iraq, Ukraine and Russia, Kuwait Energy is better placed than many of its competitors to mange the risks that come with operating in such a volatile country.

She downplayed the potential for unrest after international troops withdraw from the country by the end of 2014, saying it is not a huge cause for concern.

"What is happening there is much like Iraq," she said. "American troops left and what happened is the same story."

She added that, so far, officials at the Afghan mines ministry have demonstrated a commitment to acting in a transparent manner and adopting the best practices of the industry.

"This has happened up to this point in time," she said. "We also have very good partners: Dragon Oil, TPAO [the national oil and gas company of Turkey], and a local company, Ghazanfar. The consortium is very good."

Ms Akbar reiterated that Kuwait Energy plans an initial public offering in London but said she does not know when that will be. In 2011 the company scrapped an IPO plan.

"We cannot fix any timing," she said.

"It depends on the market situation. Last year was a horrible market for IPOs so we will see how things are this year."