KSA to use shale gas for power generation
Saudi Aramco ready to commit gas for the development of a 1,000MW
Saudi Arabia is planning to become one of the first countries outside North America to use shale gas for power generation. The kingdom is working towards commercialising its own large unconventional deposits.
"We are ready to start producing our own shale gas and unconventional resources in various types in the next few years and deliver them to consumers," Saudi Aramco's chief executive Khalid al-Falih said at the World Energy Congress in South Korea.
"Only two years after launching our own unconventional gas programme, in the northern region of Saudi Arabia, we are ready to commit gas for the development of a 1,000MW power plant which will feed a massive phosphate mining and manufacturing sector," said Falih.
The Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Maaden) plans to invest in a phosphate project which is part of a new industrial city called Waad al Shimal City for Mining Industries, with production expected to start by the end of 2016, according to a report by Reuters.
By unlocking its gas reserves, the world's top oil exporter could use the fuel to power its domestic economy and allow more room for oil sales to world markets.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al Naimi has given an estimate of over 600tn cubic feet of unconventional gas reserves, more than double its proven conventional reserves.
Saudi Aramco has been mapping unconventional reserves in the hope it will help meet an expected doubling of demand by 2030 in a country that bans gas imports. It has carried out appraisal drilling and piloting of three prospective areas for unconventional gas in the northwest, in south Ghawar and for condensate-rich shale gas in the Rub' al-Khali.
The gas will feed a proposed power plant in Jizan, which will be connected to a 400,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery. The Saudi state oil giant hopes to complete the project by early 2017, Falih said.
The Aramco chief said Riyadh is making hude investments to maintain the world's largest spare oil production capacity of more than 2 million bpd.
"As part of our drive to become the world's most integrated energy company, we have increased our annual capital budget tenfold from $4 to $40 billion in the last 10 years," the Aramco boss said.