A senior Kuwaiti official said on Sunday the Khafji oilfield, run jointly with Saudi Arabia, had been shut down for “purely technical and not political” reasons, state news agency KUNA reported. Crude production from the Khafji oilfield had been halted temporarily to comply with environmental rules, according to an industry source and an internal letter seen by Reuters.
But the closure of the offshore field, which has an output of between 280,000 to 300,000 barrels per day, revived speculation of renewed tensions between the two countries. Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah, speaking in Riyadh after a meeting of Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers, said relations between the two countries were too strong to be affected by discrepancies over oil output from the field.
“This discrepancy is related to the joint zone, joint production and the aspects of this production,” he told journalists, according to KUNA. “The halt of oil production in the divided zone is due to purely technical, rather than political reasons,” he said, adding that production could not resume until the technical matters were addressed. Sources told Reuters last week that an onshore gas gathering plant in Khafji needed to be repaired after a gas leak and that the repairs could take around six weeks.
“Our brothers in the Kingdom (of Saudi Arabia) want to conduct maintenance work and take some measures linked to the environment which the Kuwaiti side understand and is aware of,” Jarallah said.