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26 February 2024

Arab oil deposits swell by 17bn barrels

By Nadeem Kawaach

(LARRY LEE PHOTOGRAPHY/CORBIS)                                  

Arab states have pumped in excess of 46 billion over the past six years but their crude resources have gained nearly 17 billion barrels, official figures showed.

Their proven gas deposits also swelled by at least one trillion cubic metres despite steady growth in production, showed the figures by the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (Oapec).

Experts said the increase was a result of new discoveries in regional countries and the introduction of advanced technology that boosted recovery rates and allowed producers to reach deeper layers. From around 652.5 billion barrels at the end of 2001, the recoverable Arab oil reserves surged to 669.6 billion barrels at the end of 2006 and the level is expected to remain unchanged by the end of 2007.

The bulk of the increase came from Kuwait, whose oil wealth grew from around 96.5 billion barrels at the end of 2001 to 101.5 billion barrels at the end of 2006.

Saudi Arabia’s reserves, which account for nearly a quarter of the world’s total proven oil deposits, also increased from 262.7 billion to 264.2 billion barrels.

Libya reported another big increase from around 36 billion to 41.5 billion barrels while Sudan’s resources shot up from a negligible 800 million barrels to nearly 6.4 billion barrels following major discoveries in the South.

Algeria’s oil wealth also rose from 11.3 billion to 12.2 billion while the reserves of most other Arab countries remained unchanged or recorded a slight drop.

In its annual report for 2007, the Kuwaiti-based Oapec put the cumulative Arab oil production at nearly 46.5 billion barrels between 2001 and 2006.

It showed Saudi Arabia controlled the largest oil reserves in the world while war-battered Iraq has the second largest in the Arab region, standing at 115 billion barrels. Kuwait has the third largest while the UAE emerged as the fourth oil power in the Arab world, with estimated reserves of 97.8 billion barrels. Other main oil powers are Libya and Qatar, which has around 15.2 billion barrels.

At 2006 production levels of around 23 million barrels per day, the Arab world’s proven oil resources could last nearly 80 years, the report showed.

Individually, the period could sharply vary, with those in the UAE lasting nearly 107 years at 2006 output rates. Saudi Arabia’s reserves could be sufficient for around 80.5 years while Kuwait’s wealth could deplete in 112 years. In Iraq, where the oil sector has been badly damaged by persistent conflicts, the reserves could last as many as 157 years at its 2006 production rates.

Oapec’s report showed the Arab gas reserves have also grown steadily over the past six years. It put the combined Arab gas wealth at 53.3 trillion cubic metres at the end of 2006 compared with 52.2 trillion cubic metres at the end of 2001.

Qatar controls the largest gas reserves of 25.6 trillion cubic metres, nearly half the total Arab gas resources. Almost all of Qatar’s gas is concentrated in the gigantic North Field, the world’s largest reservoir of non-associated gas that has turned the tiny Gulf Arab country into the third biggest gas power.

The bulk of the increase in the Arab gas wealth came from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt. Other members reported no change in their reserves despite an increase in production to meet rising local and foreign demand.

The figures showed Saudi Arabia controls the second largest gas reserves in the Arab world and the fourth in the whole world, estimated at 7.15 trillion cubic metres. It was followed by the UAE, with around 6.04 trillion cubic metres.