Since the 1930s, Schlumberger has been an integral part of almost every E&P project across the Middle East. We have learned about the challenges of desert and mountain operations and about the geology that shapes the world’s major oil and gas fields. In the new millennium, our aim will remain the development of new partnerships and innovative methods for oil exploration and development.
The history of oil and gas in the Middle East underlines the determination and innovation that have marked and identified the pioneering spirit.
Bahrain was the first Gulf state to discover oil, and the first to enjoy the rewards that came with it. Improvements in living standards, health care and education came about very quickly, but no-one, especially the country's rulers, lost sight of the fact that this valuable resource would not last forever.
Oil and gas have played a role in the history of Egypt for thousands of years. Ancient tombs and funeral rites have given way to a modern, dynamic industry that is pushing back the frontiers of exploration and production technology.
Well over a century has passed since a straying herd of logging elephants returned to a railway construction camp in the northeastern province of Assam with their feet covered in oil.
Modern oil exploration in Iran started in 1901, with the first commercial oil discovery coming at Masjid-I-Sulaiman seven years later. Today, Iran is one of the world's leading hydrocarbon nations, producing more than 3,600,000 B/D in 1997 and exporting just over 70% of that total.
In Iraq, exploration began in the late nineteenth century. In 1914, a consortium began to explore around Baghdad and Mosul.
The geology of Jordan, with its proximity to the Gulf Coast, and with evidence of petroleum on the surface in many places, suggests the country to be a likely prospect for the discovery of oil and gas. However, since the early 1930s, extensive exploration activity has met with little success.
Oil exploration started surprisingly late in Kuwait. The first exploration concession was granted to the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) in 1934. Within three years, the company had made its first discovery.
A late-starter in the oil business, Libya has caught up with the field in no small measure. As if the benefits of huge oil reserves were not enough, the country enjoys excellent market prospects by virtue of its position on the world map, a characteristic that had also made the country valuable to the Greeks and Romans during their occupation centuries ago.
The story of oil in the Sultanate of Oman is, in some ways, rather different from that of the other Gulf countries. Commercial discoveries were not made until the early 1960s, and generally the country’s oil fields were found to be smaller, more complex and more difficult to exploit than those of its Gulf neighbors.
Pakistan’s oil industry is one of the oldest in the world, cutting its teeth in the Punjab Province in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and continuing to grow rapidly throughout the last century, bringing healthy economic progress in its wake.
When the Anglo-Persian Oil Company lost its concession in Iran in 1932, scouts were dispatched around the Gulf States to look for new exploration territory. Qatar was no exception, and agreements were made.
The earliest oil concession in Saudi Arabia was granted in 1933. First oil was found at Abu Hadriya with Abqaiq field following the same year (1940).
It is estimated that the Republic of Sudan contains one percent of the world's oil and gas reserves. The discovery of oil came as good news for the country’s economy, which had been suffering from the effects of years of civil conflict and of adverse weather on its agricultural industry.
Although exploration for oil and gas in Syria continues, the country’s proven oil reserves are not expected to last beyond the next 10 years. During this time, the country will once again become a net oil importer.
With proven crude oil reserves of almost 100 billion barrels, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) contains almost 10% of the world’s total oil reserves. Abu Dhabi holds 94% of these reserves, Dubai has around 4% and the remainder lies in Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah.
After 44 years of exploration in Yemen, the first commercial find and the opening of processing facilities meant that in 1986, self-sufficiency in domestic energy had been achieved, and that the country was also able to export oil.