(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Aramco will step up its efforts to explore and develop more gas wells across the Kingdom to meet the requirements of electric power generation, Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi said yesterday.
"Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has given instructions to carry out more gas drilling and development operations " to use gas, instead of oil, for electricity generation, as oil can be exported or kept for future generations," he said.
Al-Naimi said Saudi Aramco was carrying out drilling operations in two new wells in Tabuk. One of the two new wells, Hareed, is located northwest of Dhuba while the second named Dhuba is located near the city.
"For the first time in its 80-year history, Aramco has started using an advanced drilling ship designed to carry out operations in deep waters in order to find oil and gas in the Red Sea," the minister said.
Speaking to reporters after inspecting oil and gas installations in the Tabuk region, he said the outcome of geological survey and drilling works in the region showed that it contained huge gas and oil wealth. "The region has substantial reserves of oil and gas in commercial quantities," he added.
Speaking about the Madyan gas well, he said: "We have found more gas in the well, double the amount previously estimated. We are now developing the well to supply gas required for electricity plants in the region."
The minister added: "Although there is a lot of oil and gas wealth and shale gas in different parts of the Kingdom, I would like to tell you that the discovery and development of these oil and gas wells will take a long time."
Al-Naimi visited Tabuk for the purpose of inspecting oil and gas facilities there a week ago. But he cut short that visit following the death of Saudi Aramco Vice President Explorations Abdullah Al-Naeem.
During that visit, Al-Naimi said production at Madyan field would start this year. "Tabuk is heading to have huge wealth following the discovery of petroleum, gas and mineral resources in the region. It should make the people of Tabuk and other parts of the country happy," the minister said.
Khaled Al-Falih, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, said they would be working on seven fields in the first phase, adding that some of them are in deep waters of the Red Sea.
Gas from Madyan will be transported by pipeline to a power plant in the coastal town of Dhuba, 135 km southwest of the field. Aramco will drill more wells to appraise the field, which is forecast to produce 75 million cubic feet a day of gas and 4,500 barrels a day of condensate for a 20-year period.
Saudi Aramco is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world. Its gas production averaged 9.9 billion cubic feet per day in 2011, up from 9.4 billion cubic feet per day in 2010, while gas reserves rose to 282.6 trillion standard cubic feet from 279 trillion standard cubic feet.