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Tue 26 Aug 2008 10:08 PM

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No new oil, gas finds for Shell-Aramco venture - sources

Empty Quarter exploration's 4th well failure contradicts earlier press reports.

A Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco joint venture has made no new oil or gas discovery in the kingdom's Empty Quarter, industry sources said on Tuesday.

The South Rub Al-Khali Co (Srak) was drilling a well where Saudi Aramco had previously made a hydrocarbon find, but has so far made no fresh discovery, industry sources familiar with Srak's operation said.

"Srak is drilling the same area, but much deeper," said one source. "It is not a new discovery. Srak should complete the well by the end of the year, by then they hope for something more."

Aramco made the earlier discovery about 30 years ago, the sources said.

The London-based Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) magazine reported last week that Srak had made a new discovery.

The latest well is the fourth that Srak has drilled in the vast desert of southeast Saudi Arabia known as the Empty Quarter.

Srak began exploring in 2004 for gas, condensate and natural gas liquids in nine blocks in two separate parts of the area. Ownership of Srak is split equally between Shell and Aramco.

Total exercised an option to sell a 30 percent stake in the joint venture in May after the first three wells found nothing. Srak plans to drill a total of seven exploration wells. (Reuters)

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