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Saudi Arabia finds natural gas fields in east and south

Aramco's Fadhili project will boost the plant’s processing capacity by 60% by November 2027 Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah
Aramco's Fadhili project will boost the plant’s processing capacity by 60% by November 2027
  • Fields discovered in Empty Quarter
  • Gas also found in existing fields
  • Boost to oil exports

Saudi Aramco has discovered natural gas fields in the south and east of the country, the state news agency said on October 19, in what could be a significant boost for the kingdom’s gas plans.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, said the Al-Hiran and Al-Muhakik fields, both with strong natural gas flows, were found in the Empty Quarter in the far southeast of the kingdom.

In addition, he said, three already known fields were found to have new natural gas reservoirs in the Eastern Province, near Dhahran and Al-Hofuf. 

At the Al-Hiran field, natural gas flowed from one well at a rate of 30 million standard cubic feet per day (scf/d), along with 1,600 barrels per day of condensate. Natural gas flowed at a rate of 3.1 million scf/d from another reservoir in the same field. At the Al-Mahakik field, natural gas flowed at 850,000 scf/d. 

Natural gas was also discovered in five reservoirs in known fields. One is in the Empty Quarter, in the Al-Jallah reservoir of the Usaikerak field. Four are in the Eastern Province, at the Shadoon field west of Haradh, the Mazalej field southwest of Dhahran, and the Al-Wudhaihi and Awtad fields southwest of Al Hofuf. 

Saudi Arabia is expected to use an enormous shale gas play at the Jafurah field, due to come into production next year, to develop upstream petrochemicals and divert lucrative crude oil into exports, according to analysts.

Aramco said the Jafurah field, south of Al-Hofuf, contains an estimated 200 trillion standard cubic feet of natural gas, which would make it the largest liquid-rich shale gas play in the Middle East.

Domestically produced gas allows the country, the world’s biggest oil exporter, to develop other upstream projects and free up oil for export in the future.

Bill Farren-Price, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, said that despite the official statement hailing the importance of the finds, more public information would need to be made available from well tests. 

If Saudi Arabia becomes able to produce and burn more gas, this will “lessen the requirement for crude burn and make more available for export”, Farren-Price said. “It’s a reminder to anyone shorting the oil market that they still wield a big stick in terms of capacity.” 

Saudi Arabia has said it will continue its additional voluntary oil output cuts to the end of the year as it tries to keep prices high in order to fund the Vision 2030 development programme and giga-projects that have been valued at $1.25 trillion. 

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