KUWAIT CITY, Nov 29, (AFP): Saudi King Salman is to visit Kuwait next week as hopes rise in Kuwait of a resumption of production from a jointly run oilfield after a two-year shutdown. The king will travel to Kuwait on Dec 8 after a Gulf summit in Bahrain and stay for three days, Al-Jarida newspaper reported on Tuesday.
His visit comes as the state-owned Kuwait Gulf Oil Co (KGOC) readies for a long hoped-for resumption of production from the offshore Khafji field, jointly run with Saudi Aramco Gulf Operations. In an internal memo seen by AFP, KGOC asked staff to make the necessary preparations. It ordered implementation of a Startup Readiness Plan to put “facilities in operational ready state within least possible period in order to achieve the resumption of Khafji crude oil production.”
Output from the Khafji field was halted in October 2014. Saudi Arabia cited environmental concerns but the move came amid a slump in prices that put pressure on producers around the world. The halt to the field’s production of 300,000 barrels per day — shared equally between the two countries — hit Kuwait far harder than Saudi Arabia.
The emirate lacks the spare production capacity its giant neighbour enjoys. Saudi Arabia halted output from a second shared field in the former neutral zone between the two countries a few months later.
The Wafra field, which had been pumping 200,000 bpd, was run jointly with Saudi Arabian Chevron. In response, Kuwait stopped granting visas to the firm’s expatriate staff. Kuwaiti authorities were unhappy they had not been consulted about Riyadh’s 2009 decision to renew Saudi Arabian Chevron’s operating licence for 30 years, industry sources said at the time.