Kuwaiti Officials Squabble Over Upstream Project
An opposition member of Kuwait’s parliament on September 5th criticized the Kuwaiti government’s decision to shortlist Western oil firms that will participate in the $7 billion opening up of northern crude fields in the emirate to foreign investment.
Kuwait’s Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) announced on August 30th that it would name in late September the international oil companies that had been asked to participate in the upstream opening.
Kuwaiti oil industry sources were quoted on August 31st as saying that nine foreign firms had been put on a preliminary list of potential operators: Chevron Corp., Conoco Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp., Texaco Inc., TotalFinaElf, Royal Dutch/Shell, BP Amoco and ENI. Kuwait Oil Co. (KOC) is working on a list of about 20 foreign firms that will be qualified as non-operating partners.
Islamist Parliamentarian Mubarak al-Duwailhan said on September 5th that: “The latest decisions by the government confirm the fears by members of parliament that what is happening in secrecy raises suspicion and mistrust. What is surprising is the government’s intention to start the preliminary steps for this project before it is approved by the National Assembly.”
Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah rejected al-Duwailah’s criticism, however, saying that the shortlisting process is normal and that the government would seek approval from parliament before signing any deals with foreign firms. According to Sheikh Saud, the government will first issue an initial process protocol and then open its data rooms to bidders.
That will be followed by a request for proposals, which will be evaluated by the SPC to select the best offer. The oil minister stressed that: “There will not ever be any commitment with an international oil company for this project until this matter has been resolved with parliament one way or the other.”