Arab states report 179 new oil discoveries in five years

Nov 21, 2003 01:00 AM

Arab states have made 179 new oil discoveries over the past five years to boost their already mammoth crude reserves by nearly 23 bn barrels and ensure growth in their market share in the coming years, according to official estimates. Nearly 85 % of those discoveries were reported by the North African states of Algeria, Egypt and Libya although the bulk of the increase in the proven resources has come from Qatar, Iraq and Libya, OAPEC said in a new report.
Egypt had the highest number of discoveries with 102 followed by Algeria with 34 and Libya which made 15. But most of them were minor discoveries as they did not contribute significantly to their recoverable crude wealth, except in Libya, said the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, which groups the UAE with nine other regional oil producers. The UAE reported no new oil or gas discoveries as it has been engaged in a massive programme to develop its existing crude and gas reserves and maintain its status as one of the dominant hydrocarbon powers in the world.

At the end of 2002, the country's extractable oil wealth was estimated at nearly 97.8 bn barrels although experts believe there is nearly double that amount in deeper layers, to which present drilling technology has no access so far. But the current proven reserves are fourth only to Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran and account for more than 7 % of the world's total oil reserves of 1.068 bn barrels.
The report by the Kuwaiti-based organisation showed total Arab proven crude deposits surged to nearly 653.2 bn barrels at the end of 2002 from around 629.8 bn barrels at the end of 1998, an increase of about 23 bn barrels. The increase came mainly from Iraq, whose proven reserves swelled to 115 bn barrels from 112.5 bn barrels to maintain its rank as the second top oil power in the world after Saudi Arabia, which controls a quarter of the global crude wealth.

Another large increase came from Libya, whose reserves soared to around 36 bn barrels at the end of 2002 from 29.5 bn barrels at the end of 1998. Qatar's reserves also jumped to 15.2 bn barrels from only 4.5 bn barrels while Saudi Arabia's crude wealth peaked at 262.8 bn barrels compared with 261.5 bn barrels in the same period. There were also modest increases in Syria and Algeria.
Outside the Arab region, Iran reported an increase to 99 bn from 93.7 bn barrels while Nigeria's reserves surged to 31.5 bn from 22.5 bn barrels. In contrast, Britain's oil wealth declined to around 4.7 bn from 5.2 bn barrels while Mexico's tumbled to 12.6 bn barrels from 47.8 bn barrels. The reserves of the United States and Norway remained at 22.4 bn and 10.2 bn barrels.

Citing global estimates, OAPEC said Arab states would have a significant share of the increase in world oil demand in the coming few years given their large reserves. Its figures showed global oil consumption would grow by around 1.6 % annually from around 76 mm bpd in 2000 to 89.6 mm bpd in 2010.
"It is expected that the Arab countries will have immense contributionin supplying these prospective oil demand increase as was the case in 1985," it said. "This is attributed to the huge oil reserves they hold which are of relatively low cost besides their location which is close to the surface; another key factor is the location of Arab oil producers which are close to emerging Asian markets."

Source: Gulf News
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