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Emirates Business 24/7: Saudi Shell venture drills fourth well

By Nadim Kawach on Tuesday, March 25 , 2008   

A Saudi-Shell gas venture said yesterday it had started drilling its fourth well and described the operation in the heart of the Empty Quarter as challenging.

The South Rub Al Khali (Srak) began drilling its fourth exploratory well (Kidan 6) on February 29 in contract area 1 near Shaybah in the heart of the Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali) desert near the UAE border.

“This is a gas exploration well targeting the Palaeozoic Khuff carbonate section. The well is challenging as it is planned to be drilled to nearly 18,000 feet and is forecast to encounter both high H2S (sour) gas as well as high temperatures and pressures,” Srak said in a statement sent to Emirates Business.

Kidan 6 is the fourth well of a seven well exploration programme commitment made in line with the Upstream Project Agreement between the Venture and the Saudi Government, it added.

Srak is a 50-50 joint venture between Shell Saudi Ventures Ltd and the government-owned Saudi Aramco.

The venture suffered a major setback in February when France’s Total said it was pulling out because of what it described as disappointing results.

But Srak said the move would not affect its operation and stressed it would pursue exploration activities in the Empty Quarter, one of the most hostile and arid areas in the world. Srak’s concession covers nearly 210,000 sq km, almost the size of the United Kingdom. Total had owned 30 per cent of the venture, while the Dutch Shell Group controlled 40 per cent and the rest was held by state-owned Saudi Aramco. Following Total’s pullout, its stake was shared by the remaining two partners, which now hold 50 per cent each.

Besides Srak, other joint ventures are hunting for hydrocarbons in the Empty Quarter after winning separate bids within the so-called “Gas Initiative” that was launched nearly 10 years ago.

The number

18,000: The depth in feet of the new Kidan 6 well. High temperatures will make the well ‘challenging’
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