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

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.

Electric luxury vehicles, SUVs ‘more likely to cause accidents’

Updated 23 August 2019

Electric luxury vehicles, SUVs ‘more likely to cause accidents’

  • As EV sales rise, French insurer AXA warns that drivers are struggling to adapt to cars’ rapid acceleration

LONDON: Electric luxury cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) may be 40 percent more likely to cause accidents than their standard engine counterparts, possibly because drivers are still getting used to their quick acceleration, French insurer AXA said.

The numbers, based on initial trends from claims data and not statistically significant, also suggest small and micro electric cars are slightly less likely to cause accidents than their combustion engine counterparts, AXA said at a crash test demonstration on Thursday.

AXA regularly carries out crash tests for vehicles. This year’s tests, which took place at a disused airport, focused on electric cars.

Overall accident rates for electric vehicles are about the same as for regular cars, according to liability insurance claims data for “7,000 year risks” — on 1,000 autos on the road for seven years — said Bettina Zahnd, head of accident research and prevention at AXA Switzerland.

“We saw that in the micro and small-car classes slightly fewer accidents are caused by electric autos. If you look at the luxury and SUV classes, however, we see 40 percent more accidents with electric vehicles,” Zahnd said.

“We, of course, have thought about what causes this and acceleration is certainly a topic.”

Electric cars accelerate not only quickly, but also equally strongly no matter how high the revolutions per minute, which means drivers can find themselves going faster than they intended.


Accident rates among luxury and SUV electric vehicles are 40 percent higher than for their combustion engine counterparts.

Half of electric car drivers in a survey this year by AXA had to adjust their driving to reflect the new acceleration and braking characteristics.

“Maximum acceleration is available immediately, while it takes a moment for internal combustion engines with even strong horsepower to reach maximum acceleration. That places new demands on drivers,” Zahnd said.

Sales of electric cars are on the rise as charging infrastructure improves and prices come down.

Electric vehicles accounted for less than 1 percent of cars on the road in Switzerland and Germany last year, but made up 1.8 percent of Swiss new car sales, or 6.6 percent including hybrids, AXA said.

Accidents with electric cars are just about as dangerous for people inside as with standard vehicles, AXA said. The cars are subject to the same tests and have the same passive safety features such as airbags and seatbelts.

But another AXA survey showed most people do not know how to react if they come across an electric vehicle crash scene.

While most factors are the same — securing the scene, alerting rescue teams and providing first aid — it said helpers should also try to ensure the electric motor is turned off. This is particularly important because unlike an internal combustion engine the motor makes no noise. In serious crashes, electric autos’ high-voltage power plants automatically shut down, AXA noted, but damaged batteries can catch fire up to 48 hours after a crash, making it more difficult to deal with the aftermath of
an accident.

For one head-on crash test on Thursday, AXA teams removed an electric car’s batteries to reduce the risk of them catching fire, which could create intense heat and toxic fumes.

Zahnd said that studies in Europe had not replicated US findings that silent electric vehicles are as much as two-thirds more likely to cause accidents with pedestrians or cyclists.

She said the jury was still out on how crash data would affect the cost of insuring electric versus standard vehicles, noting this always reflected factors around both driver and car.

“If I look around Switzerland, there are lots of insurers that even give discounts for electric autos because one would like to promote electric cars,” she said.