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Saudi and Kuwait reassert claims to Durra oil field

Iranian oil minister Javad Owji Reuters
Iranian oil minister Javad Owji said in 2022 that the country would begin its own production in the disputed region
  • Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have renewed claims to Durra oil field
  • Iran claims ownership of part of the field, which it calls Arash
  • The field could produce 84,000 barrels of oil per day

Both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have made renewed claims that they own the disputed Durra offshore oil and gas field.

The state news agencies of each country cited unidentified government sources saying they are the sole owners.

The statements reignited a decades-old quarrel with Iran, which also asserts sovereignty over part of the area.

Saudi’s press agency cited a foreign ministry source, who called on Iran to negotiate with the kingdom and Kuwait to finally determine the eastern border of the disputed area.

An unidentified source at Kuwait’s foreign ministry made similar remarks to its news agency, claiming Durra’s natural resources were shared by the sheikhdom and Saudi Arabia.

Government-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) estimates the field could produce 1 billion cubic feet of gas and 84,000 barrels of oil per day.

The field – known as Durra to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and referred to as Arash by Iran – is situated in the northern Gulf.

The British imperial administration failed to draw up clear boundaries for this region when establishing borders, and classified it as a “neutral zone” due to the nomadic Bedouin tribes who inhabited the area.

In March 2022, Reuters reported Iran as describing an agreement by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to develop Durra as illegal, saying it also owns part of the field.

Nonetheless, last December, subsidiaries of KPC and Saudi Aramco signed a further memorandum of understanding to exploit the field.

Following the discovery of oil, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia partitioned Durra, with the duo sharing production revenue, according to an April 2022 report by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

It adds: “A degree of tension over this arrangement persists.”

According to Iran’s state-owned Press TV, the Saudi-Kuwait arrangement, which dates back to the 1960s, is “inaccurate and acquisitive and unacceptable” to Tehran.

Iran and Kuwait began talks to develop Durra in 2000 but failed to come to an agreement, Press TV noted.

In April 2022, Iran’s oil minister Javad Owji vowed to start production in the area in response to Kuwaiti-Saudi attempts to claim it for themselves.

The dispute has slowed the field’s development, which could provide much-needed gas for Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

A 2008 report by Deborah Jones, US ambassador to Kuwait at the time, suggested that officials from Kuwait’s national oil company expected gas production at Durra would start in 2016, according to cables published by Wikileaks