Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Dubai — Bahrain, the smallest energy producer in the Persian Gulf, has discovered its biggest oil field since it started producing crude in 1932, according to the country’s official news agency.

The shale oil and natural gas discovered in a deposit off the island state’s west coast "is understood to dwarf Bahrain’s current reserves", Bahrain News Agency reported, without giving figures. Consultants DeGolyer & MacNaughton evaluated the field, and Bahrain planned to provide additional details on Wednesday about the reservoir’s "size and extraction viability", the news agency reported.

Bahrain’s energy industry is overshadowed by the world’s biggest oil and gas producers. It is between Saudi Arabia, the largest oil exporter, and Qatar, the biggest shipper of liquefied natural gas. Bahrain has crude reserves of 124.6-million barrels — fewer than Poland — and 92.03-billion cubic metres of natural gas, according to the US CIA Factbook. Saudi Arabia, by comparison, has 266.5-billion barrels of crude reserves, and Qatar has 24.3-trillion cubic metres of gas.

The find could "provide a much needed boost to Bahrain’s fiscal accounts", Ehsan Khoman, head of research for the Middle East and North Africa at Mitsubishi UFJ in Dubai, said on Monday. But it was too early "to estimate the potential increase in hydrocarbon receipts until further guidance is provided".

Bahrain field

Bahrain discovered the offshore Khaleej Al Bahrain Basin as it seeks to expand output capacity at its wholly owned Bahrain Field to 100,000 barrels a day by the end of the decade. The country is pumping about 45,000 barrels of oil a day from its Bahrain Field, and it shares with Saudi Arabia income from a deposit that produces about 300,000 barrels a day, according to figures from the US Energy Information Administration.

It is bound by the agreement among major oil producers to limit production to reduce global inventories.