The small Gulf country of Bahrain said it had made two natural gas discoveries, but it is not yet clear how large they are or whether they are commercially viable.

Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, chairman of the country’s main energy company Nogaholding, gave a briefing about the finds to his father King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa in a meeting at Sakhir Palace on November 8.

The two unconventional gas reservoirs, Al-Juba and Al-Jawf, are located under the existing onshore gas-producing fields of Al-Khuf and Al-Onaiza.

The official Bahrain News Agency said initial evaluations of the discoveries were “encouraging in terms of quantity and production opportunities” and cited Sheikh Nasser describing them as “significant”. However, the authorities have not yet given any indication of the size of the discoveries or how quickly they might be brought online.

The authorities will be hoping the latest finds will be easier to exploit than the offshore Khaleej Al-Bahrain field discovered in 2018. That holds an estimated 80 billion barrels of shale oil and 20 trillion cubic feet of gas, but the cost and complexity of trying to extract them has meant no decision has yet been made on whether to start production.

Natural gas is seen by many as a viable ‘transition fuel’ to help wean the global economy off hydrocarbons and move to cleaner, greener fuels. However, countries may find that, unless they move quickly, some resources could become stranded as pressure grows to reduce carbon emissions.

U.S. special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry recently told a meeting at the Chatham House think-tank in London recent that countries would have to find a way to capture carbon emissions from gas projects in the longer-term.

“Gas is going to be part of the transition,” he said, but added “You can’t pretend that building out 30- to 40-year infrastructure to have a major gas facility is somehow going to be ok, unless you can capture the emissions.”

Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad (another son of King Hamad) has been in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh for the UN climate change summit COP27 in recent days, where he talked about Bahrain’s commitment to global initiatives to mitigate climate change.

Bahrain has set itself a target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. As part of that it is also seeking to develop a new national energy strategy and recently appointed Boston Consulting Group to work on the plans.

Dominic Dudley, Contributor

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