Bahrain is to spend between $6 billion and $8 billion on modernising its refinery within the next six to seven years, said a senior government official.
Speaking at the opening of the 20th Middle East Petroleum and Gas Conference  yesterday, Energy Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza he said the modernisation would mean several key components of the refinery will be replaced and new ones set up to ensure the refinery remained good for the next 70 years.
'The Bapco refinery is more than 70 years old already and has been giving us tremendous service all these years. We have to ensure it stays that way for our future generations,' he said. The two-day event, part of the Middle East Petroleum and Gas Week, is being held under the minister's patronage at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa.
Dr Mirza said Bahrain will next month celebrate 80 years of the discovery of oil in the country. 'This will be a momentous occasion for us since oil was first discovered in the region at Jebel Al Dukhan,' he added. The conference is being held on the theme, 'The Known Unknowns and the Unknown Unknowns'.
'The world we live in, especially over the last five years, has introduced several unknowns for the world in general, and for our industry in particular,' the minister said. 'With steady demand growth, and with steady and relatively low oil prices, the good old days are gone, perhaps forever. The new norms for our industry are volatility, high oil prices and increased pressures due to environmental and global warming considerations,' he added.
He said the impact the industry has on the world's economies is the subject of many debates in just about every conference, and justifiably so. 'In a world that has become greatly integrated, interdependence becomes a key driving force,' he said.
'The upgrade of the refinery will increase its capacity from 260,000 barrels per day to 450,000 barrels per day and we will then be able to meet the quality of the products demanded by the markets of the future, will meet the environmental standards and will be designed to world-class energy efficiency standards,' he added.
Qatar Energy Minister Mohammed Saleh Al Sada said oil production in the Middle East remained reliable and there was no shortage of supply in the market. He said supply had been reliable despite disturbances in the region.
'There was never any shortage of oil and supply remained steady,' he added. Aramco Trading  President and Chief Executive Officer Said Al Hadrami and event sponsor Vitol Group of Companies President and Chief Executive Ian Taylor were also present at the event.