US oil giant Occidental will begin drilling for gas at the Bahrain Field "any time now", Energy Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza said .
"Cabinet approval for the deal has been received and a royal decree is set to be issued this week," Dr Mirza said.
"Immediately after that, the company will start work.
"This is a major step forward for Bahrain's oil and gas industry," he said, speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony to open the Middle East Oil Show and Conference at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre.
"We will now be able to drill deeper than ever before," he said.
"Occidental will carry out drilling for gas at depths of up to 20,000 feet and Bahrain would not be charged for the operations since all drilling costs would be borne by the company for the first seven years by then it would be known whether they have found results."
He said if gas were to be found, there would be a negotiation process but if there is no gas, it would not be a loss to Bahrain.