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Bahrain Says Occidental Leads Awali Oil Contract Bidders

Source: Reuters 12/21/2008, Location: Middle East

The U.S. firm Occidental Petroleum Corporation is the front runner to win a contract to overhaul Bahrain's Awali onshore oilfield, the Gulf Arab state's top energy official said on Sunday. "We have ranked them (bidders) and Occidental is number one," said the Oil and Gas Affairs, Minister Abdul-Hussein Mirza.

Bahrain will go back to the three bidders and give them an opportunity to improve their offers, Mirza said, on the sidelines of a meeting of Gulf Arab oil ministers. Besides Occidental, Bahrain has shortlisted Exxon Mobil and A.P. Moller-Maersk for the contract.

Mirza declined to say when the final contract would be awarded.

Bahrain has said it would award the tender, which will see output at Awali double, in the first quarter of 2009. The 35,000 barrels per day field, discovered in 1932, was the first oil find on the Arab side of the Gulf.

Bahrain is a small oil producer. Aside from Awali output, Bahrain also receives around 150,000 bpd of crude from Saudi Arabia, its share of output from the Abu Saafa oilfield.

Last year, Bahrain awarded a tender for offshore exploration to Occidental and Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production (PTTE).

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