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Kuwait to begin drilling in disputed gas field with Iran

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia’s dispute with Iran over the Durra gas field is coming amid improved ties between Iran and the Gulf.
A file picture shows Kuwait's largest oil refinery at Al-Ahmadi complex, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the capital Kuwait City, Kuwait, Nov. 21, 2014.

A Kuwaiti oil official said on Thursday that the Gulf state will begin drilling in al-Durra disputed gas field, further complicating the dispute with Iran that also involves Saudi Arabia.

Oil Minister Saad Al Barrak told Sky News Arabia that Kuwait will start drilling and begin production in the Durra field without waiting for the demarcation of its maritime border with Iran, Reuters reported.

Background: Al-Durra gas field, known as Arash in Iran, is in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Kuwait. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait consider the field to be located within their neutral zone, but Iran claims a northern part of the field.

The dispute dates back to the 1960s, but has heated up recently. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signed a deal last year to develop the deal. Iran called the move illegal. In June, the National Iranian Oil Company said it is preparing to drill in Durra. Both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia publicly rejected this earlier this month.

Why it matters: The dispute comes amid rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In March, the two foes agreed to resume diplomatic relations in a deal brokered by China. Gulf expert Kristian Coates Ulrichsen told Al-Monitor this month that the Durra dispute is a “test” for the improved Saudi-Iranian relationship.

Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates also renewed relations with Iran in 2022.

Gulf states cut ties with Iran in 2016 after protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. This occurred in response to the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in the kingdom.

Know more: Kuwait released 11 Iranian prisoners earlier this month as part of an extradition treaty between the two countries.

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