Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, aims to boost its gas production by almost 50% by the end of this decade, led by its $100 billion-plus Jafurah unconventional gas development.

The Saudi Arabian state-owned giant, while unveiling its annual results on Sunday, said it remains on track to produce up to 2 billion cubic feet per day of gas by 2030 from the Jafurah field, enabling it to lift its gas production capacity by 50% in the same time frame.

The plan complements Saudi Arabia’s wider vision of freeing up an additional 1 million barrels per day of crude-oil export capacity by 2027.

This will be done by increasing the role domestic gas consumption plays in the kingdom’s energy matrix.

Saudi Arabia’s dry natural gas production exceeded 4 trillion cubic feet for the first time in 2020.

Aramco commissioned the Fadhili natural gas processing plant in 2019 and thus began processing natural gas from non-associated fields in the eastern region, scaling up gas-based infrastructure in the kingdom.

Most of the incremental gas production in the kingdom is likely to come from the Jafurah development, which is also the largest non-associated gas field in Saudi Arabia.

Multiple contracts

In November, Aramco awarded multiple contracts for its giant Jafurah unconventional gas development.

The state-controlled giant described awards of “16 subsurface and engineering, procurement and construction contracts valued at $10 billion for the Jafurah gas plant and gas compression facilities, as well as infrastructure and related surface facilities”.

The Jafurah site is thought to be the largest known free gas field in the kingdom and a key component of Aramco’s strategy to ramp up unconventional gas output, in line with its energy transition plans.

The company has already announced its ambition to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions on a Scope 1 and Scope 2 basis across its wholly-owned operating assets by 2050.

Aramco earlier said its capital expenditure at Jafurah is expected to total $68 billion over the first 10 years of development.

However, the company expects more than $100 billion in total overall life-cycle investment at Jafurah.

Production is expected to reach up to 2 Bcfd of sales gas, 418 million cubic feet per day of ethane and about 630,000 barrels per day of gas liquids and condensate by 2030.

Hydrogen potential

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman al Saud has highlighted the country plans to tap into its Jafurah gas reserves to produce hydrogen.

Aramco said on Sunday Jafurah will “provide additional feedstock to support the growth of its high-value chemicals business, complement its focus on low-carbon hydrogen production and help reduce emissions in the domestic power sector”.

With an estimated 200 Tcf of gas in place, the Jafurah basin hosts the largest liquids-rich shale gas play in the Middle East, Aramco said.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in 2020 said that “the development of the field would earn, within 22 years from the beginning of its development, a net income for the government of about $8.6 billion and provide gross domestic product with an estimated $20 billion annually”.

The Jafurah field covers a length of 170 kilometres and a width of 100 kilometres between Ghawar — the world’s largest conventional onshore oilfield — and the Saudi coast.

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