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Men work on an oil pump during a sandstorm in the desert oil fields of Sakhir, Bahrain, Jan. 8, 2015 (AP photo by Hasan Jamali).

What Bahrain’s Huge Oil and Gas Discovery Means for Its Post-Oil Agenda

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

On April 1, Bahrain announced that it had made a huge discovery of offshore oil and gas in the Persian Gulf that far exceeds its current reserves. Drilling by two U.S.-based firms confirmed that the Khaleej al-Bahrain basin may contain more than 80 billion barrels of shale oil and around 13.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. For the cash-strapped government in Manama, which has faced a mounting fiscal deficit and nagging social pressures, the news came as a major relief.

While just a minor player in the oil market today, Bahrain actually gave birth to the industry on the Arab side of the Persian Gulf. Prospectors first discovered oil at the island nation’s Awali field in 1932, six years before oil was found in Saudi Arabia. Yet beyond a second, shared oil field with Saudi Arabia that it doesn’t control, Bahrain never struck oil again, and the two fields have sustained the country’s economy for much of the past 80 years. Production at Awali, however, has fallen from its peak of over 75,000 barrels per day in 1970 to around 35,000 barrels today. ...

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