The design and route of a massive new pipeline to bring crude oil from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain will be completed later this year, Oil and Gas Affairs Minister and National Oil and Gas Authority (Noga) chairman Dr Abdulhussain Mirza said.
The $350 million project, which is expected to be completed within a year, will ensure that the Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) refinery in Sitra receives around 350,000 barrels of oil a day, said Dr Mirza.
Speaking after opening the Middle East Petrotech 2010 at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre (BIEC), he said the project is being undertaken to expand and replace the existing capacity and an old pipeline.
"The 114-km pipeline will use a safer route that avoids going through inhabited areas and will also use state-of-the-art technology."
The four-day event, being held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, will explore the challenges and opportunities the refining and petrochemical industries in the Middle East faces.
The show also features an exhibition that will have leading players from all over the region and elsewhere taking part.
Dr Mirza said Bahrain's focus is also on building a new state-of-the-art plant for the production of high-value lubricants base oil stock in a joint venture with Noga Holding and Neste Oil of Finland.
"We are today placed in a very inflationary environment, but we have taken the challenges head on and reacted pro-actively to retain our competitive edge and stay on course for continued growth and earnings in line with market expectations," he said.
"We believe cost effectiveness and cost reduction achieved through improving reliability of the existing plants and equipment is the key to sustainable growth and competitive advantage."
The minister said Bahrain also recognises that attracting, developing, and retaining highly talented employees is critical to future success.
"In this context, the current shortage of skilled manpower is a cause for greater concern compared to the rising cost of materials.
"We are in the process of streamlining our oil industry human resources strategies and have prepared a comprehensive succession plan for all our oil and gas and petrochemical companies."
During the conference, a panel of high-ranking industry figures will deliver their own perspective on this year's conference theme, "Downstream Challenges: Financing, Market Changes and Technology."
There will be nearly 100 technical presentations and three executive guest speaker sessions, exploring issues relating to the technology, management, equipment, health and safety, manufacturing and economy of refining and petrochemicals.
A total of 121 exhibitors from 25 countries will be in attendance at the conference and the exhibition, and these include Bapco, Kuwait National Petroleum Company, Saudi Arabian Oil Company, Qatar Petroleum, ABB, Air Liquide, Dow, ExxonMobil, Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Company (Petro Rabigh) and Yokogawa.
Since its inauguration in 1996, the Middle East Petrotech series has established itself as a key industry forum for these highly significant sectors of the region's economy.
During the last event in 2008, a total of 2,705 trade visitors and conference delegates attended.