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Heavy oil 'key energy resource for future'.

MANAMA: The Middle East has about 30 per cent of global heavy oil reserves amounting to about 500 billion barrels, according to Oil Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa.

In his keynote address to the second Middle East Heavy Oil Congress (MEHOC), Shaikh Mohammed said the Middle East's vast heavy oil resources, much of which are still undeveloped, will be an important future energy source for the region, especially when conventional hydrocarbons dry out.

However, Oman and Kuwait have been successful in tapping into this resource and exploiting it commercially, he said adding that Bahrain has its own schemes to develop heavy oil, especially in view of the fact that conventional resources will become scarce one day and "we will have to tap into heavy oil".

Tatweer Petroleum has a heavy oil venture that has proved successful, he said.

The company focuses on applying enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques in the Bahrain field and is at the very forefront of the industry in thermal recovery of both heavy and light oils from carbonate structures.

"Bahrain has heavy oil in a zone called Rubble. We haven't produced anything commercially so far, but we are successful doing pilot tests," he explained.

The Rubble reservoir heavy oil project that uses steam injection for EOR has been a technical success. And Bahrain is willing to share its expertise with other countries in the region so that ultimately the cost of production comes down.

The market price of oil is another factor that will have a bearing on the viability of heavy oil production, he added.

According to a study by international management consultancy Arthur D Little, heavy oil accounts for 21pc of the world's crude oil reserves.

Despite the global abundance of this valuable resource, its commercial viability and sustainable production continues to be a challenge for the world's producers, especially amid a challenging economic landscape.

Because of its highly viscous composition, heavy oil requires a different - and often more technologically advanced - refining process than that which is used for conventional oil.

Bapco chief executive Dr Peter Bartlett told the GDN that overcoming the challenges associated with leveraging this complex - but invaluable - energy resource will depend on the industry's ability to develop commercially viable recovery solutions.

"Fossil fuels will continue to account for the majority of the world's primary energy needs for the next few decades, and heavy oil will feature in that mix.

"In order to compete, though, heavy oil producers will have to overcome cost challenges versus commercially competitive alternatives. They will innovate to do so.

"At Bapco, we consider heavy oil in the mix of feedstocks we purchase for our refinery," Dr Bartlett said.

Being held at the Gulf Hotel under the patronage of Shaikh Mohammed, MEHOC is a two-day conference and exhibition where oil companies and service providers are showcasing latest technologies and offerings to heavy oil professionals.

Key participating companies this year include Bapco, the Kuwait Oil Company, Lukoil Engineering, Occidental Petroleum, Oman Schlumberger, Tatweer Petroleum, and Total.

It is organised by dmg events Global Energy vice-president Jean-Philippe Cosse, who said, "Around the world, trillions of barrels of heavy oil is waiting to be recovered, potentially extending the hydrocarbon life expectancy by decades."

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Apr 12, 2017
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