Kuwait has reportedly summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires to protest against a bid by Iran to develop unilaterally the disputed offshore Durra gas field. Kuwaiti daily Al Jareeda on Monday reported that Iran has invited tenders to develop its oil and gas fields after the lifting of the international embargo.
Tehran has been struggling for years to develop its fields amid tight international sanctions that have deprived it from the much-needed expertise and technology of foreign energy firms.
The Durra field, at the core of regional negotiations between Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran, is among the areas Iran plans to develop, the daily said.
The three countries have yet to reach an accord on demarcating their sea borders in the northern Arabian Gulf.
The official Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) did not mention the Kuwaiti protest as it reported that Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Khaled Suleiman Al Jarrallah on Sunday met Iranian Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires Hassan Zarinkar and discussed bilateral ties.
“The two officials also tackled the latest regional and international developments,” the official news agency said.
According to a US report published by Wikileaks, the dispute over the field, called Durra by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and Ashar by Iran, dated to the 1960s when both Kuwait and Iran awarded concessions for exploration in the Durra field, to Anglo-Iranian Petroleum (now part of BP), and Royal Dutch/Shell.
However, no significant exploration and or development has been carried out on the field.
Recoverable gas reserves in Durra are estimated at 200 billion cubic meters. Kuwait signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia in 2000 to divide any oil and gas profits from the offshore Durra field, but Iran made a claim to part of the field and objected to any exploration until the maritime border is demarcated, the report said.
Other estimations claimed the field’s gas reserve was one trillion cubic feet along with some 310 million barrels of oil.
Kuwait has regularly attempted to reach a settlement of the offshore border issue but it has yet to be resolved.
Iran has repeatedly warned it would launch full-scale unilateral development of the disputed offshore gas field in the Gulf if Kuwait did not respond to its offer of joint development.
Such strong statements were seemingly meant to force Kuwait to agree to Iranian terms following years of fruitless negotiations over the field.
However, Kuwait rejected the threats of a coup de force and insisted that “the disputed natural gas-rich maritime border area was subject to bilateral negotiations for final demarcation and neither side should act unilaterally in the area until it is fully delineated.”
Source: Gulf News