Kuwait to spend US$90 billion to upgrade oil and gas industry

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Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) plans to spend US$90 billion in the next five years as part of its strategy to boost oil production and relaunch much of the country's stalled upstream and downstream projects which have been affected by political wrangling.

Hashim Al Rifai, managing director for planning at KPC, said the investment programme included expenditure on oil investments abroad, including refineries in Vietnam and China and upgrading the oil tanker fleet as well as projects to achieve the 2020 oil production capacity target which is projected at 4 million bpd.

Petrovietnam, Vietnam's second largest refinery has been developing the 200,000 bpd refinery in Nghi Son, 215km south of Hanoi, in a joint venture with Kuwait Petroleum International, Japan's Idemitsu Kosan Co and Mitsui Chemicals Inc.

The world's fourth-largest oil exporter currently has a crude production capacity of around 3.3 million bpd, however, Kuwait has pumped out only about 2.4 million bpd of oil, including natural gas condensate.

Samuel Ciszuk, IHS senior Middle East energy analyst, sees KPC's fiveyear plan as an ambitious programme to regain the initiative in the industry following years of disappointments and shows the extent of pent-up investment demand in the emirate's energy sector.

KOC, a unit of KPC, is also planning to start heavy oil production in the fiscal year of 2015/2016 at a rate of 60,000 barrels per day, its chairman Sami Al Rushaid said. This is important as Kuwait needs to significantly improve its heavy oil production skills and technology, in order to be able to deliver the higher production capacity it has hoped for, according to Samuel Ciszuk.

KPC's growth strategy is taking place under the stewardship of Farouk al Zanki who recently took over as CEO of KPC having succeeded Saad al Shuwaib who had been in the post since 2007.

Mr al Zanki outlined his determination to revitalise Kuwait's energy sector by saying "We are serious about the implementation of the ambitious strategy to meet the growing demand for energy on the local and global markets," reported The National.

Due to the "constant tug of war" between Kuwait's cabinet, appointed by the country's emir, and its elected parliament, however, KPC has seldom been able to spend its entire budget, says Samuel Ciszuk. There is hope that the new KPC leadership will be more independent minded.

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