KSA to drill seven Shale Gas test wells


Saudi Arabia, the world's big­gest oil ex­porter, will drill about seven test wells for shale gas this year, ac­cord­ing to Oil Min­is­ter Ali Al-Naimi.

"We know where the ar­eas are," Al-Naimi said at a con­fer­ence in Hong Kong to­day, re­fer­ring to the coun­try's shale gas de­posits. "We have rough es­ti­mates of over 600 tril­lion cu­bic feet of un­con­ven­tional and shale gas so the po­ten­tial is very huge and we plan to ex­ploit it."

Saudi Arabia is seek­ing to de­velop its nat­u­ral gas re­sources to meet ris­ing domestic en­ergy de­mand. Saudi Ara­bian Oil Co., or Saudi Aramco, is search­ing for shale gas in the north­west of the coun­try as it ex­plores for un­con­ven­tional re­sources such as sour gas in the oil-rich east­ern re­gion and in the Empty Quar­ter deserts, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of Up­stream Amin Nasser told a con­fer­ence March 10 in Manama.

The na­tion may hold as much as 645 tril­lion cu­bic feet of tech­ni­cally re­cov­er­able shale gas, the world's fifth-largest de­posits, be­hind China, the U.S., Ar­gentina and Mex­ico, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates by Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) The king­dom also has about 282.6 tril­lion cu­bic feet of proven con­ven­tional gas re­serves, ac­cord­ing to Aramco's 2011 an­nual report.

Find­ing the nec­es­sary amount of water in the re­gions where Aramco is ex­plor­ing will be dif­fi­cult, Nasser said at the Manama con­fer­ence. Shale gas is pro­duced by a tech­nique known as hy­draulic frac­tur­ing, or frack­ing, in which mas­sive amounts of water, chem­i­cals and sand are blasted un­der­ground to free trapped hy­dro­car­bons. Domestic gas prices are also too low to make de­vel­op­ing the de­posits eco­nom­i­cally fea­si­ble, Khalid al- Falih, Aramco's chief ex­ec­u­tive, said Jan. 14 in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The coun­try sells the fuel lo­cally at a sub­si­dized price of 75 cents per mil­lion Bri­tish ther­mal units.

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