EXCLUSIVE: Bahrain to showcase energy project fund at Gateway Gulf

26-Apr-2018

Bahrain is planning to establish a fund to allow private investors to invest in its oil and gas projects as part of a broader initiative to attract investment into a wide of infrastructure projects across various sectors in the kingdom.

Many of the projects that the government will make available for investment will be showcased at the Gateway Gulf Investor Forum in Manama on 8-10 May.

For oil and gas, the National Oil & Gas Authority (Noga) is planning to launch the fund as part of a broader initiative in Bahrain to attract private sector investment into infrastructure projects in the kingdom. These projects have traditionally been backed by the state and largely unavailable for the private sector.

“We are thinking of launching a fund where we make projects available to investors, investors that typically do not have access to these types of projects,” says Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, Minister of Oil. “These are mature projects; they have been de-risked and construction is almost complete. It is a no-brainer for an investor to look at them.”

The initiative is part of broader plans within Bahrain to open the economy up to private-sector investment. “It is part of a drive to allow the private sector to come in. We never made it available for private investors to come in, so it is a novel approach. We are funding all our projects by ourselves,” says Sheikh Mohamed. “We don’t have an issue, but it will be interesting if we can attract private investors to come in through the fund. They will generate yields that they probably won’t be able to get anywhere else.”

Bahrain’s oil and gas sector is attracting strong interest following the announcement on 1 April that it had made its largest oil discovery since 1932. The announcement of the Khalij al-Bahrain discovery marks the start of a new chapter for the oil industry in Bahrain, which was the first in the GCC to discover oil 86 years ago.

The reserves are located in the Khalij al-Bahrain basin, covering 2,000 square kilometres in shallow Gulf waters off the kingdom’s west coast, and are estimated to contain more than 80 billion barrels of oil.