SLB’s strong engagement in Kuwait _Karim-AL-SAYED

Together with the Jurassic fields, Dorra will help Kuwait to increase its self-reliance on domestic gas, which is a top priority for the country.

Karim AL SAYED Country Manager, Kuwait SLB

SLB’s strong engagement in Kuwait

February 22, 2024

Karim Al Sayed, SLB's country manager for Kuwait, talks to The Energy Year about key trends and developments shaping Kuwait's upstream sector and SLB’s role in helping the country achieve its oil production targets. SLB is a global technology company.

What is your assessment of the current key trends and developments shaping the domestic upstream sector?
Following the pandemic, in 2022, Kuwait was still in a recovery phase. In 2023, we can see an exciting rebound of Kuwait’s overall performance in the hydrocarbons sector, with a significant increase in oil and gas initiatives in the country since H2 2023, leading to more activities and projects that will be launched in the coming years.
As far as offshore is concerned, there are plans ongoing: KOC has brought in a second offshore rig, which will start operations in December 2023, and the first exploration phase project is primarily targeting oil in six wells.
Regarding gas, we have been involved in the Jurassic gasfields’ developments since 2008. Operations in those areas need to be expanded and that is why KOC has constructed two new gas facilities – namely, the Jurassic Production Facilities 4 and 5. These were completed in January 2024. The drilling activities will follow in order to meet the target KOC has set of 1 bcf [28.3 mcm] per day of production by 2026.
Lastly, there are discussions ongoing about the development of the offshore Dorra gasfield, which is very promising. However, due to the complexity of the Dorra Field, its exploitation is more difficult and places it in a longer-term perspective. Nonetheless, together with the development of the Jurassic fields, Dorra will help Kuwait to increase its self-reliance on domestic gas, which is a top priority for the country. If Kuwait manages to meet the expected production levels, that gas can be devoted to exports too.

What role will SLB play in helping the country to achieve its oil production targets?
KOC is ramping up its production capacity, aiming to reach 3.5 million bpd by 2027, and SLB, being the leader in the domestic oil and gas service industry, is ready to seize opportunities arising in areas from drilling operations to building facilities.
There are multiple factors affecting the ramping up production capacity to 4 million bpd by 2035. One is the joint operations, both onshore and offshore, between KGOC, Saudi Aramco and Chevron’s Saudi subsidiary in the Neutral Zone, which have restarted after a hiatus of seven years.
Then, Kuwait has some of the largest oil reserves in the world and a fundamental aspect will be how these assets are managed, for example by enhancing production from mature fields, where KOC is planning to bring several new projects on line.
Finally, technology will play a major role in stepping up capacity because increased drilling activities are not going to get the job done unless they are delivered with the right tools, and digitalisation will make a big difference in the next 5-10 years.
SLB’s Neuro autonomous solutions represent a perfect example of this: they combine SLB domain expertise with connected intelligent systems that create a continuous feedback loop between surface and downhole, boosting the efficiency, consistency and reliability of E&P operations while reducing human intervention and the carbon footprint. We introduced Neuro to Kuwait in 2023 and have had great success, with KOC already looking at expanding its deployment to support enhanced drilling operations.

How would you define SLB’s relationship with KOC in pushing forward technological advancements?
Over the years, SLB has built a symbiotic relationship with KOC in developing new technologies, supporting the national oil company in its pioneering approach. This is bolstered by a joint willingness to deploy innovative solutions quickly and efficiently.
A core question in this sense is how we can change the game in terms of efficiency, costs and output by relying more on digital operations. Technology is a key asset that spans across the whole chain, from exploration to production to facilities management. We have already tested some digital solutions to help operators optimise oil and gas production. Now, we are expanding them in terms of production management, monitoring new workflows that have been successfully tested and proven in the Jurassic fields. We are aiming to apply them at a larger scale.
The infrastructure is there. Now, it’s a matter of testing it and deploying it on a greater scale, something that SLB and KOC have done side by side for decades.


What are SLB’s initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint and implement sustainability in its strategy?
First of all, it is important to break down sustainability into two distinct but complementary aspects: greener hydrocarbons production and efforts to reduce emissions.
The attention paid to the emissions the industry generates when producing oil is becoming more and more important, with projects in neighbouring countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE spearheading what are now being called “green barrels.” Kuwait is moving along the same path, and KPC has recently presented their 2040 Sustainability Strategy, focusing on maintaining or increasing oil production while ensuring lower emissions.
Kuwait is increasingly focusing on gas projects as the resource is recognised as a bridging fuel to drive the energy transition and, domestically, that means minimising the reliance on oil for power generation. In this sense, there are several initiatives we are carrying out with KOC, using gas to power our own plants and production facilities, monitoring methane emissions and adopting renewable energy sources for our operations, as seen in our production testing on KOC wells conducted with a full solar setup.
Moreover, we are looking into two new initiatives covering CCUS, which are in the assessment phase at the moment.

Can you give us some examples of the company’s commitment to promoting ESG practices?
In 2022, we carried out two pilot projects for water treatment. An important element to take into consideration for Kuwait is that the majority of its oilfields are mature, which means you have more produced water, and that is a problem because you cannot simply dump it anywhere. Instead, you have to treat it in order to be able to reutilise it, either for EOR purposes – such as reinjecting it into the well to bring up more oil – or for civil and agricultural purposes.
I can give you practical examples of our commitment in this field. Today, SLB has two camps in Kuwait where our operations produce a large amount of water: North and South. In the North camp, we are already recycling this water by deploying the same technology that we developed with KOC, and that water is supplied to the surrounding farms to support agricultural activities.
We have also started producing our own fertilisers. We had a pilot project two years ago in Saudi Arabia, and in 2022 we kicked one off in Kuwait. It is a small production, but nonetheless it is helping farmers and the country, which is known for its water scarcity issues, contributing to the development and the wellbeing of its people.

Where do Kuwait and SLB stand when it comes to empowering national human resources?
Kuwait is unique among the GCC countries as it features one of the highest percentages of local talent: engineers, maintenance technicians, supply chain staff, HSE personnel – all outstanding human capital that we contribute to nurturing, for example by sending the top talent overseas to receive additional training.
Besides this, we are collaborating with the many educational institutions in Kuwait, such as Kuwait University, with which we have partnered to open two research labs in 2023; with the Ministry of Oil; and with technology institutes with which we are working to develop our technical staff. Throughout the years, we have produced many industry leaders who now are part of SLB’s DNA and we will continue doing that.
Finally, we have also consistently increased our Kuwaitisation rate, which went from 35% in 2022 to 50% in 2023. Our aim is to raise it to 60% within the next couple of years.

How important is Kuwait for the SLB Group’s strategy?
Kuwait is one of the most important countries for us both in the MENA region and globally. We have been operating in Kuwait for the past 85 years and we see ourselves here not as a service company, but as a partner, with a strong engagement and alignment with the country’s development objectives.
We are proud to say that KPC and KOC consider us one of the permanent companies in Kuwait because of our history and the milestones we have achieved together. The last barrel of hydrocarbons will come from the Middle East and we are here to stay for the long term, investing as much as we can in terms of technology and resources to enable KOC to achieve its targets.

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