Aramco's Wasit gas development programme on track to meet rising demand.
Preliminary engineering and design work for Saudi Arabia's biggest gas plant should be completed by the first quarter of next year, an Aramco executive said.
State giant Aramco has switched focus to meeting domestic gas demand after completing last year a massive crude expansion project to boost output capacity to 12.5 million barrels per day.
As petrodollars fuel economic expansion, the Arab world's largest economy is contending with rapid demand growth for gas-fired power and for feedstock for the petrochemical industry. The world's top oil exporter is experiencing annual gas demand growth of 7 percent per year.
"The front-end engineering and design (FEED) would be completed between the third quarter of this year and the first quarter," Majid al-Mugla said on the sidelines of an industry conference late on Tuesday.
Canada's SNC-Lavalin is undertaking the preliminary work and also providing project management for the plant, called the Wasit gas development programme.
The project would provide for the production and processing of up to 2.5 billion cubic feet per day of gas from the Arabiyah and Hasbah offshore non-associated gas fields, SNC-Lavalin said in a statement when it was awarded the contract.
Supplies from this gas plant would be used for power and industry, but not as a feedstock for petrochemicals, Aramco's chief executive Khalid al-Falih told Reuters in November.
Gas from the plant would go a long way toward meeting rising utility and industry demand, Falih said.
Aramco is aiming to boost gas supplies 30 percent to 8 billion cubic feet per day in five years. That would be up from just over 6 billion cfd last year, according to Reuters calculations.
The plant would be located between the port of Jubail and the Khursaniyah oilfield. (Reuters)