Kuwait is delaying until next month an announcement on the names of international oil companies (IOCs) chosen for the emirate's multi-billion dollar development of northern oilfields, the foreign minister said on Wednesday.
"It was decided to delay the announcement of the IOCs' names until the end of September," the KUNA news agency quoted Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah as saying following a meeting for the Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC).
Sheikh Sabah, also chairman of SPC, said the meeting discussed a number of "ideas and proposals" regarding the project, estimated to require some seven billion dollars of investments.
Al-Qabas newspaper quoted unnamed sources on Wednesday as saying that the government will ask the selected foreign oil majors to form a consortium for the project.
The paper named Texaco, Chevron, ExxonMobil, TotalFinaElf, Shell and BP Amoco as the likely choice for the proposed consortium, which will double production in the northern oilfields to 900,000 barrels per day.
The investment, known as Kuwait Project, has been met with opposition from parliament for fear that the emirate's lifeline may rest in foreign hands.
A parliamentary committee voted to exempt foreign oil companies from having to appoint local agents, but parliament has delayed voting on a bill to regulate oil investments.
The bill permits foreign oil majors to set up Kuwaiti shareholding companies fully owned by them to carry out the development projects, but rules out foreign ownership of Kuwait's natural resources.
The Gulf Arab state aims to increase production capacity to 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2000 and three million bpd in 2005. Its present capacity is around 2.2 million bpd.
The majors are to be paid by a fee per barrel of oil extracted for developing the fields near the Iraqi border, not through production-sharing agreements.
Foreign oil firms in Kuwait, which holds around 10 percent of global oil reserves, have previously been restricted to technical service agreements. - (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
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