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While UK Government Kills Fracking, Saudi Arabia Sees Shale Gas as Kingdom’s Next Energy Bonanza


The world’s biggest oil exporter is ramping up efforts to develop natural gas with plans for a 15-fold boost in output from unconventional deposits of the fuel.

Saudi Aramco is building facilities to tap shale gas in the kingdom’s oil-rich eastern region and is making “a lot of progress” toward this goal, Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser told reporters in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Plans include a plant to desalinate seawater that Aramco can then inject underground to frack for gas.

“We are looking to take our unconventional gas within the next 10 years to 3 billion standard cubic feet a day of sales gas,” Nasser said on Sunday. Aramco currently produces more than 190 million cubic feet of unconventional gas daily, all of it in the remote north.

Known officially as Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the state-run company is expanding its search for gas as a potential export to help reduce the nation’s reliance on sales of crude. Saudi Arabia also wants to use gas at home as fuel in power stations and as feedstock for the production of petrochemicals, a high-priority industry for the government in its strategy to diversify the economy.

Earlier attempts to find and develop Saudi gas, together with international partners including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, met with lackluster results. Now, with improved technology, Aramco is seeking unconventional gas at the South Ghawar and Jafurah deposits in eastern Saudi Arabia, Nasser said.

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