Saudi Arabian Oil Company, also known as Saudi Aramco, is boosting its gas exploration and development efforts to meet rising demand for electricity in the kingdom, Arab News reported.
"King Abdullah has given instructions to carry out more gas drilling and development operations … to use gas, instead of oil, for electricity generation, as oil can be exported or kept for future generations," the newspaper cited Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi as saying.
Aramco is drilling at two new wells in Tabuk, which has "substantial reserves of oil and gas in commercial quantities" and is also using an advanced drilling ship designed to carry out operations in deep waters in order to find oil and gas in the Red Sea, the newspaper reported, citing Naimi.
The kingdom, the world’s largest crude exporter, found double the amount of gas previously estimated in the Madyan gas well, Naimi added.
Aramco will drill more wells to appraise the Madyan field, which is forecast to produce 75m cubic feet a day of gas and 4,500 barrels a day of condensate for a 20-year period, the newspaper reported.
Aramco's gas production averaged 9.9bn cubic feet per day in 2011, up from 9.4bn cubic feet per day in 2010, while gas reserves rose to 282.6 trillion standard cubic feet from 279 trillion standard cubic feet.
Saudi Arabia has about one-fifth of the world's proven oil reserves and is the largest oil producer and exporter of total petroleum liquids in the world. The kingdom has the largest spare capacity which it has used to help stabilise the global oil market and invest in the development of the country's infrastructure in addition to providing financial aid to neighbouring countries.
Iraq and Iran are the second and third largest producers after the kingdom in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel.