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Mon 7 Dec 2009 01:33 PM

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Saudi oil giant sees Manifa field production delayed

Saudi Aramco CEO says oil field output to start in 2013, to be completed in 2015.

Saudi Aramco expects to start production at its Manifa heavy oil field in 2013 and complete the project in 2015, later than originally planned, according to CEO Khalid al-Falih.

The project, which involves building a causeway to 27 shallow-water drilling islands, will eventually produce 900,000 barrels a day of heavy crude oil, according to the text of a speech al-Falih gave in Bangalore, posted on the company’s Web site on Monday.

The investment decision was made when oil prices were above $70 a barrel, it said. When development contracts were awarded, oil demand was weaker and prices had fallen below $35, though costs did not decrease proportionally, Aramco said.

“We reviewed the program, and with some execution plan modifications, including deferring completion by two years, decided to continue,” al-Falih said.

Saudi Arabia originally planned to complete the project by mid-2011, according to statements in past years.

Saipem SpA, Europe’s biggest oil-field services company, said in November 2008 it was reviewing costs to develop Manifa.

In December last year, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said the production date for Manifa would depend on when the market needs more oil.

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