RUB’ AL-KHALI, Asharq Al-Awsat – After exploring for two and a half years in the Empty Quarter, the South Rub’ al-Khali Company Ltd. (SRAK) has begun drilling for non-associated gas and gas condensates.
SRAK is an incorporated joint venture operating on behalf of its three shareholders: Royal Dutch Shell with 40 percent, and France’s Total and Saudi Aramco each holding 30 percent.
In November 2003, the company was awarded a two-block concession area that comprises 210,000 square kilometers. Contract Area 1 is a 50,000 square kilometer area near the Shaybah field. The other location, Contract Area 2, is nearly 160,000 sq km and is next to the Yemen border.
Isharat 1 is the first of seven wells to be drilled in the next 28 months, as stipulated by the terms of SRAK’s contract with the Saudi Arabian government, according to a report carried by Saudi Aramco’s website.
The parent companies negotiated with the Saudi Arabian government for the right to explore for and produce non-associated gas and gas liquids – not oil, the report said.
“It will take four months to drill to a depth at which gas can be found. Gas or no gas, they will move on to the next site to begin the drilling process all over again,” it added.
Should commercial quantities of gas be discovered, SRAK will enter the production phase, which could lead to upwards of $2.5 billion of investment in pipelines, infrastructure and plants, the report said.
The gas is slated to be sold to the Master Gas System and will be used to power Saudi Arabia’s growing industrial and energy sectors. That will have the added benefit of creating additional employment for Saudis in the Kingdom. The Upstream Agreement allows for a 25-year production period and an overall contract duration of 40 years.