Bahrain officials have revealed that the tiny gulf kingdom has discovered some 80 billion barrels of shale (otherwise known as tight) oil - the kingdom's largest oil and gas find ever. The field also discovered 14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath an existing field.
Oil Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said the kingdom has not yet determined how much of the oil can be easily extracted, according to the Associated Press.
The oil fields were discovered in the offshore Khalij al-Bahrain Basin, which covers some 770 square miles in the shallow waters off Bahrain's west coast.
The underwater shale would dwarf the country's existing reserves.
According to figures from the US Energy Administration, Bahrain currently pumps about 45,000 barrels a day from its Bahrain Field. It also shares income from a deposit with Saudi Arabia that produces about 300,000 barrels a day.
"Initial analysis demonstrates the find is at substantial levels, capable of supporting the long-term extraction of tight oil and deep gas," the Sheikh said.
He added during the news conference, which was held in Manama on Wednesday, that Bahrain's National Oil and Gas Authority hoped to lure foreign oil and gas firms to develop the field where the reserves were found, per the BBC.
Bahrain has been pumping oil since 1932 and was among the first Arab Gulf states to extract oil.
According to the Guardian, industry consultants DeGolyer and MacNaughton (Demac) have worked with Bahrain to evaluate the newfound reserves.
"Demac evaluated the reservoir and test data, evaluated volumetric and recovery potential, and provided reports documenting both prospective and contingent resources. This is a project which breaks new ground for the industry," a spokesperson said.
The country has not historically been a major oil producer - but the new field, which officials said could come online within five years, has the potential to dramatically change that. According to the initial estimates, the oil deposits are roughly the size of Russia's oil deposits.
It could also help bolster the sagging Bahrainian economy, which has suffered from low oil prices and unrest among the majority Shia population. The country, like most of its neighbors, is run by a Sunni monarchy, and low oil prices have forced it to cut back on popular government handouts, leading to a some unrest.