Major crude producer Kuwait plans to start drilling for heavy oil so that the Gulf Arab state can produce up to 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) of it by 2017, a local newspaper reported on Wednesday.
OPEC member Kuwait already has a crude oil production capacity of 3 million barrels per day but wants to start drilling for the more viscous substance despite tougher extraction and processing, Kuwait Oil Company executive Hosnia Hashem told the newspaper al-Rai.
"Nearly 1,200 wells will be drilled to produce heavy oil," the newspaper quoted Hashem, deputy managing director for the northern region at the state-owned company, as saying.
She said heavy oil production capacity could reach 270,000 bpd by 2030 under the project, which is part of a long-term plan set out by parent group Kuwait Petroleum Corp.
Each well will cost between KD150,000-300,000 ($525,500-$1.05m) to build, she said.
The extraction and manufacturing processes would be difficult, she said, but one of the main concerns was finding experts to work on the project because of a lack of specialists in the field. The potential demand for the heavy oil was worth the effort and expense, however, she added.
"The global market has changed, and is now seeking heavy oil. We also have customers from India asking for heavy oil as soon as possible," she said.
Kuwait has three refineries and is planning a fourth under a 30 billion dinar economic development plan announced in late 2010.
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