Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil-exporting company, has awarded 16 subsurface and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts worth $10 billion for its Jafurah gas field, the largest non-associated gas field in Saudi Arabia.
The project is a significant milestone for both the commercialization of unconventional resources in the Kingdom and the expansion of Aramco’s integrated gas portfolio, which will offer additional feedstock to support the growth of the company’s high-value chemicals business, complement its focus on low-carbon hydrogen production and help reduce emissions in the domestic power sector by offering a cleaner-burning alternative to liquid fuel.
The contracts were awarded to domestic and international service companies and involve several projects to enable the development of subsurface and surface components of the Jafurah program.
The project is a key part of the company’s long-term strategy and Aramco expects total overall lifecycle investment at Jafurah to exceed $100 billion. Through its unconventional gas program at the Jafurah, North Arabia and South Ghawar fields, the company expects to create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs. The capital expenditure at Jafurah, the largest non-associated gas field in Saudi Arabia, is expected to reach $68 billion over the first 10 years of development.
“The development of Jafurah will positively contribute to the Kingdom’s energy mix and it has been made possible thanks to close cooperation between more than 17 different agencies. The government is committed to the empowerment of national companies such as Aramco and no other energy company in the world is empowered to the same extent by the state, or by the Ministry of Energy which oversees the concession to develop the Kingdom’s hydrocarbon resources.”
With an estimated 200 trillion standard cubic feet of gas in place, the Jafurah basin hosts the largest liquid-rich shale gas play in the Middle East. This covers an area of 17,000 square kilometers.
The production of natural gas at Jafurah is expected to increase to 2 billion standard cubic feet per day (scfd) of shale gas by 2030, from 200 million scfd in 2025, with 418 million scfd of ethane and around 630,000 barrels per day of gas liquids and condensates, which are feedstock for the petrochemical industry. It will make the Kingdom one of the world’s largest natural gas producers.
Commenting on the project, Aramco President and CEO Mr. Amin H. Nasser said, “This is a pivotal moment in the commercialization of Saudi Arabia’s vast unconventional resources program. It is a breakthrough that few outside the Kingdom thought was possible, and which has positive implications for energy security, economic development and climate protection.”
Jafurah is expected to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s goal of producing half of its electricity from gas and half from renewables as the kingdom pursues its 2060 net-zero target. At peak production, Aramco’s unconventional gas program is expected to replace around half a million barrels of crude oil a day that would otherwise have been used for domestic consumption.
“The development of Jafurah is a game-changer for our unconventional resources program. It will be one of the most modern, cost-efficient shale development schemes in the industry and observe the highest environmental and safety standards,” said Mr. Nasir K Al Naimi, Aramco’s upstream Senior Vce President.
Aramco, like other major oil producers, has benefited from higher crude prices. Last month, the oil-exporting company said its third-quarter profit more than doubled on higher crude prices and improved refining margins.