Reason behind Official Saudi Silence towards Bahraini Oil Discovery?

2018-04-18 - 4:45 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): It was a striking gesture by Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, during his meeting with Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and oil sector officials to brief him on the details of the oil discovery on Wednesday (April 4, 2018), when he addressed the Arab Gulf states with an emotional statement. He stressed what he described as the "honorable stances of the people of the Gulf and their support of Bahrain during a period when it needed their support," stating that "this support is a debt to be paid back even if not talked about or agreed upon." He went on to say that this is how "a human being is and it's human nature to accept something to do one's duty and if one can manage to return a favor, then that stems from noble values."

It was a striking gesture because it came in the context of announcing what Bahrain deemed the largest oil discovery in the history of the country since 1932. Did the King want to send a reassuring message to the Gulf countries, specifically Saudi Arabia, whose oil field borders adjoin the discovered oil field that was called the "Bahrain Gulf"? Is not yet known; although there is good reason to interpret this gesture that seemed intended like this.

So far, Saudi reactions to this discovery have been limited to popular Twitter pages who have sent good wishes to Bahrain amid official state silence. The well-known Saudi Muslim Brotherhood preacher Sheikh Mohammed Al-Arifi congratulated Bahrain, saying "I'm happy for Bahrain and its people for every bounty and blessing. O Allah, bless what You have bestowed upon them!" As for the Saudi writer and economic analyst Fadl Al-Buainain, he wrote: "Praise be to God for the great blessings of the people in Bahrain. I ask Allah to make it a good and blessed discovery for Bahrain and its people."

The official Saudi side; however, had not yet said anything. Which may seem somewhat strange, especially since Saudi Arabia has an influence on Bahraini decisions since the intervention of its troops to crush the protests in 2011 and the Saudi military presence in the country to this day.

صمت سعودي

Kuwaiti Newspaper "Al-Qabas" article in 1990 on largest oil discovery in Bahrain

That is not the only strange thing, as new data revealed that something similar to this discovery had taken place nearly three decades ago, but did not have a formal Bahraini announcement. A special report by Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas published in 1990 showed that a geological survey carried out by American oil companies in Bahrain during former US President George H.W. Bush's tenure Bush "showed signs that large geological formations in the area under the surface of Bahrain and the surrounding coasts include one of the largest oil and gas fields in the world."

The report revealed information that HKN, Inc., formerly Harken Energy Corporation, won exploration rights in one of these coastal areas that are potentially rich in Bahrain. The corporation, headquartered in Southlake Texas, USA, has chosen to start drilling deep experimental wells at a cost of almost $13 million for the first well. The report noted that despite these exorbitant costs, the corporation believes that its success in this region could mean billions of dollars in the future."

We do not really know what resulted from the exploration endeavors led by the Harken Corporation in 1990. And why did the talk of geological surveys claiming that Bahraini coasts have "one of the largest oil and gas fields in the world" disappear? But what might unravel part of the mystery is knowing that one of Harken's top investors at that time was James Bath, a Texas aircraft deals broker who had established an aircraft company with Saudi businessmen, in addition to Abdullah Taha Bakhsh, a Saudi investor who owned a 17% stake in the company he bought in 1987. That was only three years before the alleged oil announcements.

During the meeting held by the Bahraini King with Oil Ministry officials and the Supreme Committee for Natural Resources and Economic Security, which was mentioned in earlier reports, the King criticized the weakness of the plans of former officials of the oil sector. "A change in policies taken by sector officials at the time resulted in weak planning to explore more natural resources and the argument was the scarcity of promising opportunities," he said. The King's remark seems purely related to the local officials' negligence in forming exploration teams, but what if it was not or meant something a little more than that?


Arabic Version


المصدر: Bahrain Mirror
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