exploration and production in
the middle east
More than 80 years after the first major oil discoveries in the Middle East, the region remains one of the world’s most prolific energy sources.
Chevron made the first two major discoveries here – in Bahrain in 1932 and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1938 – and eight decades later, we continue to play an important role in this energy-rich region. We are the only global energy company to have a continuous presence in Saudi Arabia over this period. Partnership, technology transfer and organizational capability were the pillars of our success 80 years ago, and they continue to shape our present and future.
building on our past
In 1949, we signed an agreement with the kingdom to operate its 50 percent interest in the hydrocarbon resources of the onshore Partitioned Zone (PZ), an area between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This agreement continues until 2039.
Difficulties in securing work and equipment permits and a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have affected our PZ operations, stopping production in 2015. In December 2019, the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding to resolve the dispute. Pre-startup activities began in February 2020, and we expect production to ramp up to levels produced before the shut-in within one to two years.
Meanwhile, we are making progress on proving the technical and commercial feasibility of applying enhanced oil recovery (EOR) steamflooding technology to produce the heavy oil of the Eocene carbonate reservoirs at the massive Wafra Field, in the PZ. In 2013, the Wafra large-scale steamflood project reached thermal maturity, a milestone that demonstrated that the numerous technical challenges with the carbonate formation can be managed successfully.
With the application of Chevron’s heavy oil thermal EOR technologies, Wafra could one day be the world’s largest steamflood development.
Relying on our century of experience in developing steamflood applications in California and Indonesia, we look forward to working with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to unlock the value of Wafra’s resources.
One of the largest land 3-D seismic survey programs ever undertaken was completed in the PZ in 2016. Processing and interpretation of the survey, which covers the entire PZ, has been completed, and work to mature several exploration prospect continues.
a new exploration frontier
In 2012, we expanded our presence in the region when we became a participant in the exploration for and development of the oil and gas resources in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). We currently operate and hold a 50 percent contractor interest in the Sarta Block. Construction on the Sarta Stage 1A project began in mid-2019, and first oil is expected in the second half of 2020. Chevron also has a 40 percent nonoperated interest in the Qara Dagh Block, where an exploration well is planned for the third quarter of 2020.
To help meet the basic human needs of families displaced by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, Chevron has contributed about $2 million through Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee in the KRI. In addition, we have spent more than $2.9 million to improve the health and education of families living near our KRI drilling operations and to help them establish small business enterprises.