Gulf oil - ‘globally significant’

AS A GROUP, the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) controls a sizable portion of proven oil reserves. Still, several GCC countries have contracts with international oil companies to explore for fresh oil reserves of commercial quantity.

Based on figures appearing in the BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2009, GCC countries controlled 40 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves as of the end of 2008.

Saudi Arabia alone holds 21 per cent of global oil reserves. Also, Kuwait and the UAE contribute 8.1 per cent and 7.8 per cent of proven oil reserves, respectively. Several GCC states are sparing no efforts to add to their oil reserves. For example, Qatar's proven oil reserves stood at 4.5 billion barrels in 1988, increasing to 12.5 billion barrels in 1998 and still further to 27.1 billion barrels in 2008. Qatar succeeded in enticing international oil companies to develop its oil and gas industry through special production and sharing agreements.

Even Bahrain, the smallest oil producer in the region, is determined to shore up its oil fortunes. Earlier in 2009, an alliance of Occidental Petroleum Corporation of the US and the Mubadala Development Company (Mubadala) of the UAE won a 20-year contract to expand oil and gas output from Bahrain Field, the country's sole onshore source.

Amongst others, the deal calls for raising the field's capacity from 270mn barrels to 623mn during the contract's duration. Interestingly, a recently released report by the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA) put the present value of the GCC's oil reserves at US$18.3 trillion, in effect larger than the gross domestic product (GDP) of the US.

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