Bahrain launched an international licensing round Monday designed to pave the way for extraction companies to dig deeper in their search for natural gas, reproted dpa.
Oil and Gas Affairs Minister and National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) chairman, Abdulhussain Mirza said that his country was pursuing various options to secure its growing demand for gas.
"Among these options is enhancing gas recovery from the Bahrain Field, active exploration programs in all Bahrain's offshore areas, taking gas conservation measures and deep gas exploration," he said.
The bid for the deep gas dig, which will end in the second quarter of 2009, would allow oil companies to dig up to 20,000 feet instead of the current 15,000-16,000 feet in the Bahrain Field, the country's main onshore oil field.
The move comes less than two weeks after Bahrain and Iran signed a framework agreement allowing the Gulf island to import one billion cubic feet of natural gas a day.
Mirza said successful discoveries of viable quantities of natural gas at deeper levels in neighbouring countries, like Saudi Arabia, showed that there was the potential of finding commercially viable natural gas deep in its own fields.
"The objective is to attract international oil companies to comprehensively explore for additional gas resources," he added. Furthermore, he said a Model Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) would be modified to create new investment opportunities
"We are fully aware that the gas price is the key issue in this initiative, thus, we are determined to offer a worldwide competitive gas price, in order to come up with a price suitable for both sides."
Interested companies will be given access to relevant data in January and February. Mirza said he anticipates the local market will absorb all the supply in the near term.
He noted that daily consumption of gas had grown from 250 million standard cubic feet in 1972 to 1.3 billion standard cubic feet in 2007, with consumption expected to grow by 2 billion standard cubic feet a day.
Mirza said any new discoveries would be used to bolster domestic supplies. He also noted that deep gas would be more costly to produce than existing local supplies.