New shale to boost Saudi’s exports

Saudi Arabia explores new shale deposits to offset domestic demand.

Saudi explores new shale deposits
Saudi explores new shale deposits

Saudi Arabia’s natural gas reserves rose to 288 trillion cubic feet (tcf) last year, up from 285 tcf in 2012. The Kingdom explored natural gas in the Red Sea and tapped shale gas to free more crude oil for export.

Rising domestic demand for energy poses a threat to Saudi’s oil export volumes, therefore a boost in gas production will help to compensate for domestic energy needs.

Saudi Aramco expects to use shale gas to fuel a 1,000-MegaWatt (MW) plant that will feed electricity to a large phosphate mining project.

"Saudi Arabia will be among the first countries outside North America to use shale gas for domestic power generation; we are actively exploring for unconventional gas resources," said the company.

Saudi Aramco maintains that crude oil exports may decline to unacceptably low levels in the coming two decades if domestic energy needs are not met. The shale gas drive will help Saudi free more diesel and crude oil for export.

The company is looking for unconventional gas in the Northwest, the Empty Quarter desert, and near Ghawar, the world's largest oil field.

A "significant" gas field discovered in the Red Sea, called Shaur, is also "a potential game-changer in the future of the Kingdom's energy mix," the company said.

Saudi Aramco increased gas production last year to 11 billion cubic feet a day, compared with 10.72 billion in 2012.

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