Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is turning its interests towards shale gas. The company’s CEO, Amin Nasser, told reporters during a conference in Al-Ahsa, eastern Saudi Arabia, that Aramco is in the process of assessing the unconventional Jafurah gas basin, which it believes to be promising.
Saudi Aramco has launched an exploration campaign to look for unconventional gas in the northwest area, the Eastern Province and the Empty Quarter, in the hope to further boost the country’s petrochemical industry.
“Our exploration efforts have resulted in finding big volumes of shale gas in the Jafurah Basin close to Ahsa, they are highly promising quantities and economically feasible as they contain a high rate of liquids; activities to evaluate the reserves are ongoing,” Amin Nasser told a conference.
“The recent unconventional gas field in the Jafurah Basin is very promising, we are still assessing its potential but it could be a game changer for Al Ahsa in terms of creating more opportunities new engines for growth,” Nasser told an investment forum in Al Ahsa.
Earlier this month, Aramco announced that it plans to double gas production to 23 billion standard cubic feet per day of gas by 2026. Most of this production, according to Nasser, would be used to manufacture speciality chemicals.
Saudi Arabia – known for its production of crude – also occupies a leading position as one of the largest producers of petrochemicals and it is this position that it is determined to keep. Back in 2014, the Kingdom announced an investment of $91 billion over the next decade to build new plants, expand existing ones and integrate refineries with new or existing petrochemical units. It has also worked hard to create a welcoming environment for private investment in the petrochemical sector, which fostered growth in Saudi plastics and petrochemicals from less than $0.5 billion in 1985 to $22 billion in 2011.
It is believed that the exploration and production of domestic shale gas will further enhance the booming industry.
As part of plans to boost local industry and create jobs, Saudi Aramco is also planning to develop an energy industrial city between Al Ahsa and Dammam which includes manufacturing oil and gas equipment and drilling centres for Aramco.
Image: Saudi Aramco Headquarters in Dhahran
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