Yemen will sign prospecting agreements with foreign oil companies aimed at doubling production to one million barrels per day (bpd) and boosting reserves, Oil Minister Mohammad al-Wajih said Tuesday.
"Our main objective is to increase reserves and boost production to one million bpd within five years," Wajih said in an interview with Al-Hayat newspaper.
"We have reserves estimated at around 5.7 billion barrels," he said, adding that the figure could be greater if there were more seismic studies.
According to Wajih, Yemen "has just signed a prospecting agreement with the Canadian firm Nexxen and another agreement is expected to be sealed with two other firms, one Canadian and one Austrian."
"In the course of this month, we will also sign contracts for gas and oil prospecting with three international companies," he added without elaborating.
He said foreign oil companies will no longer be allowed to prospect in areas bordering Saudi Arabia following the two countries' signing last June of an agreement clarifying the border demarcation.
"Now that the borders are defined, there is great competition (among the international oil companies) to prospect in the border regions," he said.
The minister added that modernization work will be carried out at the refinery in the south Yemeni port city of Aden aimed at boosting capacity to 300,000 bpd from 140,000 bpd.
He also described as "premature" the chance of Yemen joining the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), instead saying he wished to "cooperate and coordinate" with Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil producer and exporter.
Yemen, one of the world's least developed countries, currently produces around 480,000 bpd.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )