Saudi Aramco fast-tracks Wasit gas plant

December 08, 2010 - 8:10:37 pm

DUBAI: State oil giant Saudi Aramco will bring its largest gas plant online in 2013, earlier than expected, as it accelerates gas output expansion to meet rising domestic demand, its chief executive said yesterday.

The state-owned company is now focusing on raising gas output after it completed a massive crude expansion programme last year which took its oil production capacity to 12 million barrels per day (bpd).

Domestic demand for gas in the world’s largest oil exporter is growing 5 to 6 percent annually.

Khalid Al Falih said in April the Wasit gas plant would be on stream in 2014. He also said that together with two other plants, Khursaniyah and Karan, Wasit would help Saudi Arabia process its targeted production increase of raw gas to 15.5 billion cfd by 2015 from 10.2 billion cfd.

Falih made yesterday’s remarks to reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

Wasit is one of two new gas projects Aramco plans to develop. The other one is Shaybah natural gas liquids (NGL), for which Falih said construction contracts would be awarded in the first quarter of 2011. The plant would come online by late 2014.

Wasit has the capacity to process 2.5 billion cubic feet per day (cfd) of gas from non-associated offshore sour gas fields Arabiyah and Hasbah. It would also produce around 1.75 billion cfd of sales gas.

Aramco is currently reviewing onshore bids for Wasit while bidding for Shaybah is still ongoing.

Falih added that the cost of expanding PetroRabigh, a joint venture between Aramco and Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical is expected to reach between $6bn to $8bn.

“We are also moving ahead with PetroRabigh phase II and that project will be worth $6bn to $8n investment,” he said.

The complex is integrated with a 400,000 bpd refinery and was part of Aramco’s plans to build refinery-based petrochemical complexes across the kingdom.

Another petrochemical complex which was to be integrated with the Ras Tanura refinery, the largest in the Middle East, would cost nearly $20bn, Falih said.

“We are developing very aggressively with Dow Chemical in Jubail. That will have an investment approaching $20bn,” he said. Aramco and Dow decided to relocate the project to Jubail to save costs and to benefit from the infrastructure already in place.

Aramco expects to have plentiful petrol supplies once its two new refineries come online, its chief executive said yesterday.

Saudi Aramco is building two new refineries, one in Jubail, on the Gulf’s coast in a joint-venture with France oil major Total and one in Yanbu, on the Red Sea coast.

“With the two export refineries where the contracts have already been awarded, Yanbu and Jubail, we are going to be quite long on petrol for a long time to come,” Falih said in an interview in Dubai.

“A lot of people don’t take into consideration that Saudi with our partners produces a lot of gasoline and exports some of it,” he said without quantifying how much gasoline Aramco is currently producing.

“And we still import, net-net we are slightly in deficit,” he added.

The kingdom typically imports between 60,000 bpd to 70,000 bpd of petrol, traders say.

Petrol in Saudi Arabia is heavily subsidised. Falih said demand was growing at 5.1 percent annually.