Bahrain will attract more than $20 billion investments in the energy sector in the next 15 years, it has been declared. Energy Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza said in addition, between $8bn and $10bn will be spent by Bahrain on the modernization of its 75-year-old refinery.
"The Middle East, in addition to its role of being the leading producer of oil and gas in the world, is becoming one of the fastest growing areas of demand," Dr Mirza said while speaking at the opening session of Petrotech 2012, the 8th Middle East Refining and Petrochemicals Conference and Exhibition.
The event, at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre, is being held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
"While demand in the region accounted for 6.6 per cent of world consumption in the 2000, today it represents just over 9pc," he said.
"It is estimated that by 2015, about $530bn will be invested in the energy industries in the Middle East."
He said about 60pc of these investments will take place in the GCC.
"Although being one of the smaller countries in the region, Bahrain, in its own right will attract about $20bn over the next 15 years."
Dr Mirza said that in a relatively short time since it came into existence, Bahrain's Tatweer Petroleum had managed to reverse the decline in production of oil by employing advanced technologies, in co-operation with its partners, Occidental and Mubadala. "To date, their activities have resulted in an increase of 50pc in production of domestic oil over the immediate period when it was formed."
The minister said there are genuine concerns among industry observers that the rate of refining capacity additions worldwide were outpacing the expected growth rate in demand for refined products.
"They genuinely feel this overcapacity might lead to tighter refinery margins which in turn would dry up investment in modernization and new ventures."
He said Bahrain was, therefore, looking at its refining capacity beyond 2012 – to give it a competitive advantage and better position Bahrain to capture the opportunities that future market environments may offer.
"This initiative has been named as the Refinery Master Plan Project. The current refinery, parts of which are 75 years old, evolved over the years and new units have been added, the last two being the hydrocracker and the lube base oil plants in 2007 and 2010 respectively."
Dr Mirza said the new upgraded refinery will be able to meet the quality of the products demanded by the markets of the future, meet the environmental standards, and will be designed to world-class energy efficiency standards.
The minister announced Bahrain's flagship petrochemical company, the Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company, is planning to expand its capacity in the future at an estimated cost of $1.5bn.
"This is a true example of fruitful co-operation between regional powers, in this case the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, Petrochemical Industries Company of Kuwait and Nogaholding of Bahrain."
He said as part of Bahrain's Economic Vision 2030, the National Oil and Gas Authority is to spend more than $25 million per year on training its staff to attain skills necessary to run the Bahraini economy of tomorrow.
"With a vision towards the future, we have also taken steps to complement our energy supply sources by planning to implement two pilot projects in the renewable energy area.
He said two plants, generating five megawatts of electricity each, based on solar and wind technologies are being set up soon.
"We have just recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Petrosolar to start execution of one of these pilot projects."
Dr Mirza said once the trials with the pilot plants are successful, they expect this complementary power generation will become a mainstay on the Bahrain generation landscape.
While the conference part of the show was opened by the minister, the accompanying exhibition is expected to be opened by the Prime Minister today.
More than 1,500 downstream oil and gas professionals are expected to take part in the event, being held on a theme that focuses on current challenges facing the downstream hydrocarbon industry, with emphasis on future technology and opportunities.
Gulf Daily News