Bahrain said on Sunday it had discovered extensive tight oil and deep gas resources off the west coast of the kingdom.
Independent appraisals by US-based oil consultants DeGolyer and MacNaughton and oilfield services company Halliburton had confirmed Bahrain's find of "highly significant quantities of oil in place for the Khalij Al Bahrain, with tight oil amounting to at least 80 billion barrels, and deep gas reserves in the region of 10-20 trillion cubic feet," Oil Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al-Khalifa said.
Tight oil is a form of light crude oil held in shale deep below the earth's surface.
"Agreement has been reached with Halliburton to commence drilling on two further appraisal wells in 2018, to further evaluate reservoir potential, optimise completions, and initiate long-term production," he told a news conference in Manama.
Sheikh Mohammed said he was not sure yet how much of the estimated 80 billion barrels was recoverable, but the kingdom aims to attract foreign oil and gas firms to develop the resources.
"The newly-discovered resource, which officials expect to be 'on production' within five years, is expected to provide significant and long-term positive benefits to the kingdom's economy - both directly and indirectly through downstream activities in related industries," a statement by Bahrain's National Communication Centre said.
The new energy resource is expected to contain many times the amount of oil produced by Bahrain's existing oilfields, as well as large amounts of gas, state news agency BNA reported on Sunday.
The small non-OPEC Gulf oil producer gets it oil revenues from two fields: the onshore Bahrain field, and the offshore Abu Safah field, which is shared jointly with Saudi Arabia.