A fully owned subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), Kuwait Gulf Oil Company (KGOC) works with its partners, Saudi Arabian Chevron, Inc (SAC). and Aramco Gulf Operations Co. (AGOC) in the onshore and offshore fields in the Saudi-Kuwait Partitioned Zone (PZ). In this interview, Abdulnaser Alfulaij sheds light on KGOC’s partnerships and projects in the PZ, discusses how the company will contribute to environmental protection, New Kuwait Vision 2035 and to a Kuwait less dependent on oil, and praises the forward-thinking and well-educated young people that will lead the nation forward.
What are the key projects, plans and initiatives for KGOC moving forward?
Operations as you know have been suspended at the moment in all the areas in the partition zone, whether in the Wafra Joint Operations area with SAC or in the Khafji Joint Operations area with AGOC. However, we continue to maintain the assets and the facilities as we await the order to restart operations. That is our number one objective. We aim to begin production as soon as we get the order to restart. We are ready and we will do so.
There are also plans to drill exploration wells in the Wafra Joint Operations area in the hopes of finding more oil and gas. This is all of course in agreement with our partner SAC, as is the case with any joint operations. In the off-shore area with AGOC in Khafji, there are also key projects. One of them is to follow the environmental regulations issued by the government of Saudi Arabia. We are progressing with that project, which is a key project. There are other projects to maintain the facilities, to develop more facilities within the area to extract more oil and gas, and to develop new areas and new fields.
How has the company dealt with the impact of lower oil prices?
Lowering cost is a key element for us under low commodity prices. We have always maintained that, whether the oil price is high or low. Improving efficiency is a key objective and we do it with our partners of course. We have very well recognized partners globally, Saudi Arabian Chevron in the onshore and Aramco Gulf Operations
on in the offshore, both are recognized as very efficient and high-profile companies and we are very proud to work with them. So, we are reducing cost whether in the opex and capex and we extract lower-cost oil as much as possible.
How are you working with your partners to mitigate environmental impact?
Environmental impact is the number one element, along with the safety and health of our employees. At KGOC, it is the standard that we keep at the highest level and we are supported by our partners of course, SAC in the onshore and AGOC in the offshore, who also maintain very high standards. This is of utmost priority and we do not cut corners in that at all. We maintain it and we have a proven record. We had, for example in the onshore area with SAC, very large oil lakes and oil pits from the oil fires that stayed open for a long time. Also, the practice in the past was to use open pits to collect produced water and produced oil, but we made a decision to stop that completely. We have planted vegetation in those areas where there were oil lakes before. That gives you an indication of how the working relationship between us and SAC is.
We have set plans for new projects and to maintain the existing facilities. In Wafra, the facilities are old but we have very good plans to maintain the same and to basically have new equipment, new material once they order us to restart.
How is KGOC contributing to both New Kuwait Vision 2035 and KPC’s Strategic Vision 2040?
KGOC is in a unique position to work with very reputable partners, as I said with Saudi Arabian Chevron, Inc. and Aramco Gulf Operations Co. To have the standards that Chevron and Aramco have instilled in its own employees, that by itself is a benefit to the state of Kuwait. For example, KGOC is the only company in Kuwait that works offshore and now KOC is moving into the offshore. This is a new area for them so that KGOC can contribute from its rich experience. That is an example of how we can add benefits.
What role will KGOC play in the Kuwait of the future – a Kuwait that is less dependent on oil and more on knowledge, innovation and a thriving private sector?
Actually, we are encouraging our youngsters and professionals to think outside the box all the time. In fact, we receive some good feedback and good ideas. Just a month ago we had two people with an initiative for recycling waste material and making it useful, which would help the environment rather than just disposing it.
We are encouraging them to go even a step further, such as go to the international market and talk to companies who have expertise in this and thereafter to introduce their ideas - they are going to do that. That is one part. I think what we can add is developing our people in areas where the country is going to need no matter what. More focus is on the health and the environment, protecting the environment and making smart ways to manage waste.
There is a lot of waste now and as you see from industrializing Kuwait and with all these major plans, major factories, a lot of waste is going to result from that. We need to have people who understand how to manage that waste. I think KGOC can be a contributor to that because again we are working with very good partners who share same values with KGOC. We were seeing success and I think we will improve in that area and that to us is a major contribution to the economy of Kuwait because we are moving into a green economy. We will have solar power plants serving the onshore areas.
What would you say have been your most significant achievements during your time representing the Oil & Gas sector of Kuwait?
I am very proud of the young people I coached. I am very happy to see some of them achieving senior positions in the companies that they work in or recognized as professionals in their own field. That is the thing that makes me proudest. Some of them I mentored without even knowing it but what is important to me is the result. I am very happy to see some of them really become very professional engineers in their own field.
Can you share a final message about Kuwait with our readers?
Kuwait is unique in this region. The leadership of Kuwait has ensured Kuwait’s security and stability. Kuwait is open to everybody; you do not find a lot of talks about race or religion. People are working and living together very happily. Of course we react to what is happening around us in the environment, but I think the wisdom of the Amir of the country and the leadership and all that ensures that Kuwait is protected from all its surroundings.
The people of Kuwait are educated enough and have knowledge enough to protect this small country. We are not a gas station. I think we have more to contribute to the world. Kuwait has proven to be the first in supporting relief efforts. Whenever there is a disaster Kuwait is always on the frontline and we will continue to be. It is primarily because of the nature of the people of Kuwait.
That is how they lived throughout their history even before the oil discoveries and thereafter. The trend and tradition continues. We believe that is helping Kuwait stay as Kuwait because the more you help others, others can help you. Of course, Kuwait is very proud of its people. The young men and women are amazing. You walk around Kuwait and go to places and you talk about the initiatives and get to hear stories of people who did wonderful things and yet they are so young. We are very proud of that. I see all that developing in the GCC as a whole. We have a wonderful young generation who are well educated.