Bahrain talking to US oil companies about tight oil deal: minister

Bahrain’s Oil Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa said its eyeing for US companies with expertise on the development. (File/Reuters)
Updated 27 February 2019
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Bahrain talking to US oil companies about tight oil deal: minister

  • Last April Bahrain said it had discovered its largest oil and gas find since 1932 off its west coast
  • No deal for the tight oil areas has been signed yet

MANAMA: Bahrain is talking to US oil companies with shale oil expertise about developing a huge oil and gas field discovered last year, and hopes to have an interested company by the end of the year, the oil minister said on Tuesday.
Last April Bahrain said it had discovered its largest oil and gas find since 1932 off its west coast, estimated to contain at least 80 billion barrels of tight oil.
The first test well is being drilled now, Oil Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa told Reuters in an interview.
“We should have it flowing in a month or two months, maybe by the end of April, we think,” he said.
“And we’ve been talking to potential oil companies ... Maybe toward the end of this year we might be in a position to have an interested company, we hope.”
Tight oil is a form of light crude oil held in shale deep below the earth’s surface that is extracted with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, using deep horizontal wells.
Al Khalifa said the recovery rate for shale deposits is around 5-15 percent of available reserves.
He said Bahrain is targeting major US oil companies and independent companies which have “operating capabilities in US shale, because tight oil is very much a US phenomenon now.”
No deal for the tight oil areas has been signed yet, he said.
Italy’s oil major Eni in January signed an exploration memorandum of understanding with Bahrain’s National Oil and Gas Authority for a conventional offshore oil block off the country’s northern coast.
The small non-OPEC Gulf oil producer, with around 124.6 million barrels of proven reserves, gets its oil revenue from two fields: the onshore Bahrain field, and the offshore Abu Safah field, which is shared jointly with Saudi Arabia.
The Bahrain field produced around 50,000 bpd in 2015, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia split annual revenues from the 300,000 bpd Abu Safah field, where production is overseen by Saudi Aramco.
Bahrain does not have the vast oil wealth of other Gulf Arab states and its revenue has declined since the 2014 slump in oil prices.
Gulf allies Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates agreed a $10 billion aid package in October and Bahrain has embarked on a fiscal reform program to try to eliminate its budget deficit by 2022.
Al Khalifa also said state-run Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) is “a few weeks away” from financial close on funding for the capacity expansion of its existing Sitra oil refinery.
Five export credit agencies from Korea, Spain, Italy and Britain, alongside international and Bahraini banks will provide more than $4 billion in financing, he said.
The expansion will increase Bapco’s refining capacity to around 400,000 barrels per day, from around 270,000.
Around 88 percent of the crude that Bapco refines comes from neighboring Saudi Arabia, and the rest from Bahrain’s field, Al Khalifa said.


‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

Updated 26 May 2019
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‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

  • This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei
  • Another critical partner, ARM Holdings, said it was complying with the US restrictions

BEIJING: While Huawei’s founder brushes aside a US ban against his company, the telecom giant’s employees have been less sanguine, confessing fears for their future in online chat rooms.
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei declared this week the company has a hoard of microchips and the ability to make its own in order to withstand a potentially crippling US ban on using American components and software in its products.
“If you really want to know what’s going on with us, you can visit our Xinsheng Community,” Ren told Chinese media, alluding to Huawei’s internal forum partially open to viewers outside the company.
But a peek into Xinsheng shows his words have not reassured everyone within the Shenzhen-based company.
“During difficult times, what should we do as individuals?” posted an employee under the handle Xiao Feng on Thursday.
“At home reduce your debts and maintain enough cash,” Xiao Feng wrote.
“Make a plan for your financial assets and don’t be overly optimistic about your remuneration and income.”
This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei as a result of the ban.
Another critical partner, ARM Holdings — a British designer of semiconductors owned by Japanese group Softbank — said it was complying with the US restrictions.
“On its own Huawei can’t resolve this problem, we need to seek support from government policy,” one unnamed employee wrote last week, in a post that received dozens of likes and replies.
The employee outlined a plan for China to block off its smartphone market from all American components much in the same way Beijing fostered its Internet tech giants behind a “Great Firewall” that keeps out Google, Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other foreign companies.
“Our domestic market is big enough, we can use this opportunity to build up domestic suppliers and our ecosystem,” the employee wrote.
For his part, Ren advocated the opposite response in his interview with Chinese media.
“We should not promote populism; populism is detrimental to the country,” he said, noting that his family uses Apple products.
Other employees strategized ways to circumvent the US ban.
One advocated turning to Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao to buy the needed components. Another dangled the prospect of setting up dozens of new companies to make purchases from US suppliers.
Many denounced the US and proposed China ban McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and all-American movies and TV shows.
“First time posting under my real name: we must do our jobs well, advance and retreat with our company,” said an employee named Xu Jin.
The tech ban caps months of US effort to isolate Huawei, whose equipment Washington fears could be used as a Trojan horse by Chinese intelligence services.
Still, last week Trump indicated he was willing to include a fix for Huawei in a trade deal that the two economic giants have struggled to seal and US officials issued a 90-day reprieve on the ban.
In Xinsheng, an employee with the handle Youxin lamented: “I want to advance and retreat alongside the company, but then my boss told me to pack up and go,” followed by two sad-face emoticons.