KUWAIT: Ministers pose for a group photo during a meeting of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Kuwait is looking into ways to import Iraqi natural gas and is negotiating a deal on the final price, said Kuwaiti Minister of Oil and Minister of Electricity and Water Essam Al-Marzouq yesterday. Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the 99th meeting of the ministerial council of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), Marzouq revealed that importing gas from Iraq will be carried out through a new network of pipelines that will replace an old system.
The entire process will be done in phases, and Kuwait agreed on importing 50 million cubic feet of gas, said the minister, adding that the second phase will involve imports of 200 million cu ft for a period of a decade. On Thursday, Marzouq laid the cornerstone of Al-Zour Refinery, a project designed to process heavy crude oil, which will have an impact on the country’s economy. Gas installations in Al-Zour will cover the country’s needs for the resource for up to 30 years, said the minister.
Marzouq said the international crude market is expected to rebalance in the fourth quarter of 2018 after producers extended a deal to curb output. He also said oil prices would maintain at “current levels”. Producers from OPEC and non-OPEC members agreed on Nov 30 to extend a deal to cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of 2018. The producing nations aim to reduce an oil supply glut that sent crude prices crashing. As a result of the curbs, oil prices have doubled since dipping under $30 a barrel in early 2016.

Marzouq said OPEC would hold a crucial meeting in June to “review the production cuts deal… and the possibility of preparing a study to exit the output curbs”. A Kuwaiti-chaired ministerial committee monitoring the market and compliance of the cuts would hold meetings every two months to assess the situation, the minister said. Marzouq touched on proceedings within OAPEC, revealing that the UAE will hold the presidency next year, while the next meeting of the organization will be held in Kuwait in Dec 2018.

Iraqi Minister of Oil Jabbar Al-Luaibi affirmed that both countries are in the final stages of the agreement to export natural gas from Iraq to Kuwait. An Iraqi delegation will arrive in Kuwait next week to put the final touches on the accord, revealed Luaibi. On his prediction for the global price of oil, the Iraqi minister said it might hover at $60 per barrel. He touched on his country’s production, saying that Iraq produced around 4.3 million barrels per day. Luaibi hoped that production would reach five million bpd by the second half of next year.

With regards to the Iraqi-Iranian accord signed yesterday, Luaibi said that Iraq will export around 30 to 60 million bpd to Iran and the Iranians will export a similar number of barrels to Iraq. The minister also indicated that Iraq had a memo signed with British Petroleum (BP) to evaluate Kirkuk oilfield, adding that the Iraqi side is eager to increase production by 700,000 bpd. The OAPEC meeting came as the Kuwait-based regional bloc celebrates its golden jubilee five decades after its inception in 1968.

By Faten Omar and Agencies