Iran has described the recent move by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to jointly develop the giant Durra (also called Arash) offshore gas field as “illegal” and against international regulations, in a statement that could further escalation tensions in the Middle East.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, on Saturday said his nation does not approve of the Saudi-Kuwait plan to develop the Durra field, claiming it goes against ongoing procedures and previously held talks.

He said Durra is a gas field joint “between Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, parts of which are located in areas between Iran and Kuwait whose water boundaries have yet to be defined”.

"Based on international regulations and procedures any attempt to exploit and develop this field would be subject to coordination and cooperation among the three states,” said Khatibzadeh.

Ready for talks

He added that “Iran stands ready to enter into talks with neighbourly countries of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia over the exploitation of the joint gas field, and to continue bilateral talks with Kuwait within the framework of the previous negotiations over the demarcation of the continental shelf".

Khatibzadeh pointed out that Iran also reserves the right to exploit the field.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait recently said they agreed to develop Durra, which lies in the shared neutral zone between the two nations.

The agreement was signed between Kuwait Oil Minister Mohammad al Fares and Saudi counterpart Abdulaziz bin Salman al Saud.

Promising gas field

The offshore gas field is expected to produce 1 billion cubic feet per day of gas and 84,000 barrels per day of condensate, Upstream understands.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are scaling up their gas production capabilities, aimed at increasing domestic gas consumption and freeing up additional crude for exports.

The two countries said the project will be jointly developed by Saudi-based Aramco Gulf Operations Company and Kuwait Gulf Oil Company (KGOC) and the output will be shared equally by the two nations.

The nations also agreed to select a consultancy to carry out necessary studies to develop the gas field.

Future development plans

Upstream recently reported that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are also aiming to develop future projects at oilfields in the neutral zone.

The jointly administered region harbours two existing oilfields — the offshore Khafji field and onshore Wafra field resumed oil production in 2020 after being shut-in for more than four years, owing to operational disputes.

The two fields are said to be capable of producing more than 500,000 bpd of oil together, but actual production is said to be considerably lower due to technical challenges from their closure and restrictions imposed by the Opec+ group.

While Khafji, the offshore part of the zone, is operated by Saudi Aramco and state-run Kuwait Gulf Oil Company, Wafra — the onshore field — is operated by Saudi Arabian Chevron (a subsidiary of US-based Chevron) with KGOC.