Kuwait oil export upgrade delayed

A billion-dollar project to upgrade Kuwait's oil export facilities will be completed in March 2009 – around eight months later than first planned – a Kuwaiti oil official said on Tuesday.

The upgrade is part of Kuwait's plan to boost oil output capacity to 4 million barrels per day by 2020.

Kuwait's export facilities will be able to ship 3.4 million bpd once the project is completed, said Sami Al Rushaid, managing director of state-run upstream firm Kuwait Oil Company.

"Export capacity for crude will be 3.4 milion," Rushaid said.

That will be above Kuwait's actual crude production capacity which, Rushaid told Kuwait state news agency Kuna last week, would hit around 3 million bpd in about a year, an increase of around 2.6 million bpd.

Crude export capacity would also exceed future exports as around 1.5 million bpd of Kuwait's crude would go to domestic refineries, Rushaid said.

South Korea's Hyundai Industries Co Ltd signed the 361.5 million Kuwait dinars ($1.36bn) contract to upgrade crude export facilities in August 2005, with the project initially due for completion in July 2008.

The project includes construction of 19 storage tanks with a total capacity of 11.5 million barrels of crude as well as pumps and subsea pipelines.

Opec-member Kuwait is the seventh-largest crude exporter globally and sits on around 10 per cent of the world's oil reserves. (Reuters)