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Aramco Re-explores the Empty Quarter with ‘Exceptional Techniques’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Oil tanks seen at the Saudi Aramco headquarters during a media tour at Damam city November 11, 2007. REUTERS/ Ali Jarekji/File Photo

Al-Khobar– Saudi Aramco is using new technology to re-explore areas of the desert Empty Quarter, which could help enhance its reserves of oil and gas before the company offers its shares to the public.

In a statement issued, Aramco explained that a team of about 900 people is using advanced seismic technology that has been under development for the past few years. The team will explore 15,400 square kilometers around Turayqa field in Saudi Arabia.

In 2013, Turayqa, an onshore conventional gas field, was discovered but no oil has been found.

“Data processing is ongoing. The area partially covers areas relinquished by some of the joint ventures,” the company told Reuters.

In 2003 and 2004, Aramco set up four alliances to explore the Empty Quarter, but the search was concluded after failing to find commercial volumes of gas.

Aramco hopes that the new seismic technology would improve the chances of successful exploration. The technique itself cannot prove the existence of oil and gas reserves as drilling is needed for that.

Seismic technology uses artificially induced shockwaves in the earth. While conventional crews have 9,000 frequencies available to monitor the results, the crew at Turayqa has over 50,000, according to Reuters.

The technology provides a three-dimensional picture of the structure of rock going down several kilometers and tells the user physical characteristics of the rock, such as its density and fluid saturation, a former executive at Aramco told Reuterts.

Industry analysts said it was not clear whether Aramco’s new exploration efforts would affect the company’s estimate of its oil and condensate reserves, which total 261 billion barrels and have been unchanged for many years.

It is possible that any change in the reserves could affect next year’s planned international offer of a stake of roughly 5 percent in Aramco.

Some of the models of investors are based on valuations of the reserves.

An industry informed source said that Aramco’s exploration effort in the Empty Quarter and around the kingdom would help the company maintain its current reserves estimate for some time to come.

“At current production of 10 million barrels per day, and assuming reserves of 261 billion barrels, a discovery of 1.5 percent of the reserves replaces the reserves depleted in a year,” he said.