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Full crude oil production from the Partitioned Neutral Zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait could restart in a year, head of research at Kuwait Petroleum Company Abdulaziz Al Attar said Tuesday.

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"It is very difficult to say when, but it is in the process [of restarting]," Al Attar said at the Platts Crude Oil Summit in London.

"We hear production will come back... a month, maybe a year, but we don't know exactly when."

The PNZ consists of the 200,000 b/d onshore Wafra field, which ceased production in May 2015 and the 300,000 b/d offshore Khafji field, which has been shut since October 2014.

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Resumption of production from these two fields has been a major issue both technically and politically but on March 29 Kuwait and Saudi Arabia agreed to restart production from the Khafji field.

No indication of the restart schedule or expected volumes were given at the time, however.

Given its production capacity of some 12.5 million b/d and output hovering at just over 10 million b/d, the closure of the field has not impacted Saudi Arabia significantly.

However, the shut-in has had an impact on Kuwait which produces only around 3 million b/d and has little spare capacity of its own to make up for the loss of production from the PNZ.

Kuwait was hit by a three-day strike by oil sector workers in mid-April which crippled production but still allowed the country to meet its supply obligations, both locally and internationally.

Production had dropped to as low as 1.1 million b/d during the protest over plans for a new payroll scheme.

In late April, another senior KPC executive, manager market research Haitham al-Ghais, had said that the Emirate expected to reach 3.15 million b/d of capacity in June.

--Robert Perkins,
--Eklavya Gupte,
--Edited by Maurice Geller,