Plans for a major new refinery and record exports to Asia have led to heady estimates of Kuwait’s oil revenues for 2012 and the sector is looking to innovative techniques to extract huge reserves of heavy oil.

On May 8, the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) announced it was launching tenders in the coming weeks for a new $14.5bn refinery at Al Zour. The new plant, which will have a capacity of 615,000 barrels per day (bpd), is expected to be complete by 2017 and is part of plans to increase national production to 4m bpd by 2020.

In the coming weeks the KNPC will also choose consultants for the Clean Fuel project, an $18bn upgrade of two existing refineries that will increase their capacity and enable them to produce lighter grade fuel.

While discussing the tender plans, Hani Hussein, the minister of oil, told local media in May that Kuwait is currently producing around 3.1m barrels of crude per day and that it believes a price of $100 per barrel is “fair”, given the fundamentals of supply and demand. The country is the fifth-biggest oil producer in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).