Gulf oil power Kuwait said yesterday it could take 15-30 days to restore power to northern oil fields to partially resume output from the area after a huge explosion last week.

Kuwaiti Oil Minister Adel Al-Subaih told parliament that the northern region's entire 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) output, a third of the country's total, was halted after the blast which killed four people on Thursday night.

"Restoring power will take 15-30 days and the loss in output would be only for 280,000 bpd," in the longer term, he said, referring to the capacity of the Raudhatain station which was destroyed by the explosion.

Two other crude oil gathering stations in the north of the country were unharmed by the blast, which left three Indian contract workers and a Kuwaiti fireman dead.

Subaih, who has tendered his resignation over the accident, reiterated that Kuwait was meeting crude and products exports pledges from storage tanks in the south.

A gradual plan to boost output from other fields in the south and west to bridge the gap was under way, he added.

Storage of 14 million barrels was sufficient to maintain normal oil exports for three weeks, the minister said.

The explosion damaged an electricity generation plan and a gas booster facility in addition to the oil facilities close to the border with Iraq. That forced Kuwait Oil Co to declare a force majeure on all exports of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), used mostly for heating and cooking in Asia.

"The force majeure on LPG is still in place," a senior Kuwaiti oil official said after the minister's presentation to the opposition-dominated parliament on the accident.

Subaih said the gas booster station had a capacity of 300 million cubic feet per day.

He said the facilities affected by the fire cost between 105-110 million dinars ($341-$358 million) but were not totally destroyed and would be mostly covered by insurance.

MP Abdul-Mohsen Al-Mudej, a former oil minister, told Subaih in parliament that boosting output from other fields would have a negative impact at a time of needed overhauls.

Meanwhile, Kuwait has made no move to reduce crude oil exports to major Asian term buyers after a huge blast which forced the closure of a third of the country's production last week, traders said.

A South Korean refiner, Kuwait's largest Asian buyer, said that its crude liftings were as per normal while Japanese users were monitoring the situation closely.

"KPC (Kuwait Petroleum Corp) told us they have spare capacity of 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) because of the Opec producers' cut and will have no supply problems," one source at the Korean refiner said.