The map of the world’s energy reserves and the corresponding balance of power was dramatically changed with the announcement that the tiny Gulf state of Bahrain has discovered a vast oil and gas reserve.
The discovery of 80 billion barrels of shale oil, equivalent to Russia’s entire reserve, catapults Bahrain to the top of the shale oil league.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al-Khalifa said it was not yet known how much of the oil could be extracted. The scale of the find, however, is about to make it a big player in the global market, significantly boosting its economy and raising its profile in the region, where it plays a smaller fiddle to its giant neighbour, Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain has backed Saudi Arabia in a diplomatic row with their neighbour, Qatar, which holds the world’s third largest gas reserves. The split among Gulf Co-operation Council countries has all but paralysed the workings of Opec, the 14-member association of petroleum exporting countries.
The oil was discovered in the Khalij-al-Bahrain basin, located off its western shore. The field also contains an estimated 14 trillion cubic feet of gas and is expected to be on production within five years.