Saudi Arabia’s $100bn plan to become largest shale gas producer outside of the US

Saudi Arabia’s $100bn plan to become largest shale gas producer outside of the US
The Kingdom is estimated to be sitting on the fifth largest shale gas reserves in the world. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 01 December 2021

Saudi Arabia’s $100bn plan to become largest shale gas producer outside of the US

Saudi Arabia’s $100bn plan to become largest shale gas producer outside of the US
  • Saudi Arabia’s $100bn plan to become largest shale gas producer outside of the US

LONDON: Saudi Aramco’s award of $10 billion worth of contracts on its giant Jafurah project has finally fired the starting gun to develop what is thought to be the world’s biggest shale gas field outside of the US.
Having battled with America’s shale oil producers for market share over the last decade, the Kingdom is now adopting the advanced low-cost techniques of its fracking rivals and is set to spend up to $100 billion on Jafurah to rapidly increase its domestic gas production.
The Kingdom is estimated to be sitting on the fifth largest shale gas reserves in the world.
Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman earlier said the Jafurah gas field will place the Kingdom third in the world in natural gas production by 2030.
But does Saudi Arabia really have the potential to replicate the soaring success of US shale gas development?


Saudi Aramco Chief Executive Amin Nasser certainly thinks so. Announcing the contracts this week, he said: “It is a breakthrough that few outside the Kingdom thought was possible and which has positive implications for energy security, economic development and climate protection.”
Production is scheduled to begin within the next three years. The field will supply cleaner natural gas for domestic use in the Kingdom, along with feedstock for both petrochemical production, and crucially, low carbon hydrogen power.
Jafurah is expected to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s goal of producing half of its electricity from gas and half from renewables as it pursues its 2060 net-zero target. Indeed, Jafurah alone is forecast to replace up to 500,000 barrels of oil a day that would otherwise be used for domestic consumption.
All this serves the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program to diversify the economy from crude oil and sharply reduce its carbon footprint, even if the scheme will enable the Kingdom to increase its crude exports.

The Kingdom, however, has no plans to export the gas from Jafurah as Prince Abdulaziz told reporter on Nov. 29 in Dhahran following the announcement of the new contracts to develop the basin.

We will keep our gas to ourselves

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman


But it was thought that fracking in Saudi Arabia will be more expensive than it is in the US, not least because the Kingdom is not renowned with an abundance of natural water, a critical component in the fracking process.
The fracking process requires pumping water, sand and chemicals into the fields at high pressure which fractures the shale rock and allows the hydrocarbons to escape.
“We managed to reduce drilling cost by 70 percent and stimulation cost by 90 percent since the 2014 cost benchmark, while increasing well productivity six-fold compared with the start of the program,” Nasser said on Monday.
Aramco plans to use seawater for fracking at Jafurah. Earlier this year, the company also invited bids for a water desalination plant at the field. Desalinated water is used in gas processing plants. An earlier bidding process was abruptly canceled last year and the current tender process has reduced the capacity of the desalination plant by around 20 percent.




Sadad Al Husseini, former EVP of Aramco


However, former Aramco Executive VP Sadad Husseini insists the “water issue” is a red herring.
He told Arab News: “The water issue was resolved years ago. We have aquifers that hold saline water and the Saudi oil industry has a long history of using this water for drilling.”
Husseini also dismissed cost comparisons with the US shale industry.
He said: “The cost of fracking depends on the depth of the reservoir. In the US, they work with shallower reservoirs, around 3,000 to 4,000 feet deep, which makes fracking less costly. In Saudi Arabia, the reservoirs will be 9,000 to 10,000 feet deep. It’s technically more challenging, but unlike the US, those deep wells are not just producing gas, they’re also producing a lot of condensates, most notably ethane, along with gas, and that is profitable and makes the economics of this field work. Ethane feeds the petrochemical industry.”
He added: “It’s a challenging development but it wouldn’t have advanced if the issues hadn’t been resolved.
Developing shale gas reserves outside the US has not been particularly successful, partly due to environmental concerns - particularly in large population centers in Europe, a lack of infrastructure, and difficulties accessing and disposing of water used in the process.
However, Jafurah is close to the Gulf coast with relatively easy access to seawater, and is also adjacent to the world’s largest oilfield, Ghawar, and its substantial energy infrastructure.
Production at Jafurah is expected to commence in 2024 and is forecast to reach up to 2 billion cubic feet per day of sales gas, 418 million cubic feet per day of ethane and about 630,000 barrels per day of gas liquids and condensates by 2030. Investment over that period will amount to $68 billion, but is expected to total more than $100 billion overall.
Domestic employment, another key plank of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, is also central to the scheme. It is understood that along with fields under development in North Arabia and South Ghawar, the Jufarah project will create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Kingdom.
The scheme will also incorporate new technology, most notably using industrial internet of things and video analytics.
The Jafurah project will not only aid the Kingdom’s environmental ambitions but will also support its petrochemicals industry. “Its ethane and liquified natural gas are highly valuable feedstocks for the Kingdom’s petrochemical’s industry,” the Aramco chief said.

 


Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months

Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months
Updated 9 sec ago

Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months

Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s oil revenue reached 11.5 billion dinars ($38.10 billion) in the nine months to the end of December, the Ministry of Finance said in a report on Monday.
The Gulf OPEC member recorded a budget deficit of 682.4 million dinars in the first nine months of its financial year, which ends in March 2022, the ministry’s preliminary report said.
($1 = 0.3019 Kuwaiti dinars)


Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM

Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM
Updated 17 January 2022

Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM

Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM

RIYADH: Some military affiliated companies operating in the economy and civil sectors are being restructured to be listed on Cairo's Stock Exchange next year, Egypt's Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, said.

The companies will be available to all Egyptians, not just the private sector,  he added during his interview on a BBC program, citing President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s statement. 

Soliman did not disclose the names of other companies affiliated with the Egyptian army that are planned to be listed, until the validity of their legal structures is verified. 

“We have offered more than 25 percent of the wholly state-owned e-finance company on the EGX, and many companies, including companies affiliated with the armed forces, are scheduled to be offered on the stock exchange next year,” Madbouly said.  

He added that the size of the armed forces' institutions represents less than 1 percent of the Egyptian economy.

Ayman Soliman, the CEO of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt had previously revealed the organisation was in the process of completing the legal restructuring of two affiliated companies, namely the Safi food company and the Watania petroleum distribution company, with both set to be listed on the stock exchange.


UAE’s Masdar wants to hit 200 GW with global renewable energy projects: minister

UAE’s Masdar wants to hit 200 GW with global renewable energy projects: minister
Updated 17 January 2022

UAE’s Masdar wants to hit 200 GW with global renewable energy projects: minister

UAE’s Masdar wants to hit 200 GW with global renewable energy projects: minister

RIYADH: UAE-owned renewable energy company Masdar wants to see its global projects produce up to 200 gigawatts of electricity, the country’s Industry Minister Sultan al-Jaber said on Monday in Dubai.

Al-Jaber, who is also the CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), was speaking at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Summit at the Expo 2020 site in Dubai.

He said  Masdar has invested in wind and solar projects in 40 countries around the world, according to Reuters, adding: “Our ambition is to accelerate this development globally to reach 100 GW and ultimately double that again to 200 GW.”

No timeframe was set out for the growth, but last month the  Abu Dhabi government confirmed plans to increase Masdar's capacity to more than 50 gigawatts by 2030.


Tanmiah Food appoints Ahmed Osilan as managing director

Tanmiah Food appoints Ahmed Osilan as managing director
Updated 17 January 2022

Tanmiah Food appoints Ahmed Osilan as managing director

Tanmiah Food appoints Ahmed Osilan as managing director

RIYADH: Saudi-listed Tanmiah Food Co. will see executive board member Ahmed Sharaf Osilan take over as managing director for the ongoing term, which shall end on April 4, 2022.

The decision was approved by the company’s board of directors today, Jan. 17.  

The newly elected member, Osilan, will replace Muhammad Sajid Saeed.

Osilan holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial management, and has 20 years of experience in the investment field, having held many leadership positions in the past.

The Riyadh-based food company, which employs more than 1,500 people, has grown to become a major supplier of chicken products.

It operates a veterinary services unit and food processing business.

 


General Motors Middle East appoints Sajed Sbeih as new vice president

General Motors Middle East appoints Sajed Sbeih as new vice president
Updated 17 January 2022

General Motors Middle East appoints Sajed Sbeih as new vice president

General Motors Middle East appoints Sajed Sbeih as new vice president

RIYADH: Automotive company General Motors Africa and Middle East, or GM AMEO, has appointed Sajed Sbeih to the role of vice president of strategy, product & operations at GM Europe. 

Sbeih was previously serving as the managing director of commercial operations for GM Middle East & Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the company’s statement.

Currently named as GM AMEO chief financial officer, Albert Nazarian has been named as the managing director of commercial operations for GM Middle East & Sub-Saharan Africa.

Also, Ajai Shankar, former finance director, is appointed as the company’s new chief financial officer.  

This comes in line with the company’s global growth strategy and efforts to support its vision of Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion.