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Gulf Daily News: Shell to continue Saudi push

Wednesday 14 November 2007  

RIYADH: Royal Dutch Shell plans to push on with drilling for gas in Saudi Arabia’s vast empty quarter, despite finding nothing with its first three wells, a senior company executive said yesterday.

“We will complete our plan to drill seven wells,” Shell Saudi Arabia Country chairman Robert Weener said at an oil exhibition in Riyadh.

“This is an area the size of the UK. You can’t just drill three wells and say there’s no gas.”

Shell is part of a joint venture with Total and Saudi Aramco called South Rub Al Khali (SRAK). SRAK had an exit option after three consecutive dry wells.

None of the four consortia of European, Russian and Chinese firms exploring for gas in Saudi Arabia’s vast Empty Quarter has found commercial quantities of gas, prompting speculation in the industry that companies may cut short their drilling programmes.

The companies are hunting for gasfields that also hold high value condensates to compensate for the cheap domestic prices they would garner for dry gas. The companies were awarded gas exploration blocs in the Empty Quarter in 2003 and 2004.

Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco will cut gas oil exports to 880,000 tonnes next year from 2.2 million tonnes this year, and will not renew any of its annual term deals, as domestic demand grows swiftly, industry sources said yesterday.

Saudi Arabia is expected to keep term jet fuel exports steady at 1m tonnes. Saudi Aramco did not issue a tender to sell term middle distillates this year but short-listed players for price discussions for the upcoming weekend.

“Gas oil exports will be reduced because domestic demand is very strong,” said one source involved in supply discussions, adding that all shipments will be sold on a spot basis. The grades will be a mix of 0.05 per cent and 0.5pc sulphur.

“Domestic diesel demand has already caught up with production,” another source said. Oil demand is booming in the kingdom, thanks to economic growth and low domestic prices, forcing it at times to import extra supplies. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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