Bahrain has wasted no time in inviting international oil companies to drill for oil after the world court recognized the Gulf state's sovereignty over islands disputed with neighboring Qatar.
Bahrain, the first Gulf Arab state to produce oil, in 1932, has seen its reserves near exhaustion and badly needs to discover new fields. It produces around 40,000 barrels per day and receives the entire output of 140,000 bpd from an offshore field shared with Saudi Arabia.
Newspapers in Bahrain highlighted Sunday what the Gulf Daily News called a "push for drilling" in areas over which Bahrain's control has now won the full force of international law.
Bahrain does not export crude, only refined products from Bahrain Petroleum Co.'s 250,000 bpd refinery.
In an address to the nation Friday night, the emir Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa invited oil majors "to start their drilling in any island and offshore areas of Bahrain," in light of the award of the Hawar islands.
"We reiterate our call to them to take the opportunity of the breakthrough on this vital site in the Arabian Gulf," he said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa on Saturday underlined Bahrain's high hopes that international oil companies would begin drilling now the 60-year-old dispute over areas potentially rich in gas and oil has been settled with Qatar.
The premier, speaking at the opening of an oil conference in Manama, stressed that Bahrain was to step up its own drilling and exploration operations.
The International Court of Justice in the Hague recognized Qatar's sovereignty over the Zubara strip, on its northern coast, and the Fasht El-Dibel rocks.
The rocks are adjacent to Qatar's North Field, one of the biggest gas fields in the world, and of vital economic importance to Doha which enjoys the world's third largest proven gas reserves.
Bahrain is also looking to boost plans to develop tourism on the Hawar islands, Labor Minister Abdulnabi Al Shoala said Saturday.
"Now the dispute is over there will be more investments, especially from Nthe private sector".
One resort hotel opened in 1997 on one of the 16 Hawar islands in recent years despite Qatari protests but facilities remain limited.
Bahrain is also dusting off plans to build a causeway linking the country to the Hawar, which is just off the Qatari coast but about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from mainland Bahrain, the Bahrain Tribune said.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)