Kuwait plans to restart oil production by March at the Wafra field that it shares with Saudi Arabia, more than four years after the neighbors halted output.
Wafra has been shut since May 2015, due to a dispute over Saudi Arabia’s renewal of Chevron Corp.’s concession there. The field will resume pumping by March, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Khaled Al-Fadhel said Wednesday by phone.
Kuwait’s parliament voted earlier in the day to ratify the agreement the country reached with Saudi Arabia in December to resume production at their shared oil deposits. Fields in the so-called neutral zone can produce as much as 500,000 barrels a day -- more than each of OPEC’s three smallest members pumped last month.
Kuwaitis and Saudis alike have said a resumption would be unlikely to add significant amounts of oil to the market within the current duration of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ production cuts deal, which runs until the end of March.
The neutral zone, spanning more then 5,700 square kilometers (2,200 square miles), was created by a 1922 treaty between Kuwait and the fledgling Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In the 1970s, the two Gulf Arab monarchies agreed to divide the area and incorporate each half into their respective territory while still sharing and jointly managing the zone’s petroleum wealth. The region contains two main oil fields: the onshore Wafra and offshore Khafji.
Khafji was shut down in 2014 after a spat between the neighbors. The disagreement escalated over the Wafra field, when Saudi Arabia extended the original 60-year concession of the field, giving California-based Chevron, through its subsidiary Saudi Arabian Chevron Inc., rights there until 2039. Kuwait was unhappy over the announcement and claims Riyadh never consulted it about the extension.
Chevron, which operates Wafra with Kuwait Gulf Oil Co., said in December that it expected full production there to be restored within 12 months.