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Thu 8 Apr 2010 04:53 PM

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Saudi Aramco to drill hundreds of wells this year

State oil giant to drill min 300 development wells on and offshore; 48 exploratory wells.

Saudi Aramco to drill hundreds of wells this year
OIL RIGS: Decreased activity on oil last year led to a fall in the number of rigs used in the kingdom to 104 from 130. (Getty Images)

State oil giant Saudi Aramco will drill at least 300 development wells on and offshore and 48 exploratory wells this year, an executive said. "We are proceeding with our development and exploration programme, (and) this year we are going to drill 48 exploration wells and 300 plus development wells," Zuhair al-Hussain, vice president for drilling and workover at Saudi Aramco, told Reuters this week on the sidelines of an industry event.

Aramco would maintain the level of rigs it is now operating at 96, of which 17 are for exploration and the rest for development wells, Hussain said.

Decreased activity on oil last year led to a fall in the number of rigs used in the kingdom to 104 from 130.

Saudi Arabia, like the other OPEC members subject to output limits, saw its crude output fall after the organisation announced supply curbs of 4.2 million bpd in December 2008.

Falling global oil consumption has left the kingdom sitting on its biggest supply cushion in years and allowed it to shift attention from oil to booming gas demand that is growing by 7 percent annually.

Hussain said the focus on drilling for gas would continue, and rigs were now 50 percent for gas and 50 percent for oil.

An industry source said the number of rigs active in the kindgdom used to be 70 percent for oil and 30 percent for gas.

Drilling in two offshore non-associated gas fields, Arabiyah and Hasbah would start by the end of the year, he said.

Gas from these fields would be processed at Aramco's new and biggest plant, Wasit, which has a capacity of 2.5 billion cubic feet per day (cfd), Hussain said at an industry conference.

The kingdom has recently announced a new gas find in the northern area of Jalamid, which could be commercially exploited.

Tests showed the Jalamid-3 discovery well flowed at 12.1 million cubic feet per day (cfd).

The new gas find in the northern area is very promising and will double exploration activities there, Aramco's chief executive Khalid al-Falih was quoted as saying last month.

"We drilled in Jalamid in the past, it did not give us good rates, after more seismic work, we went back to drill Jalamid-3, and now we have to re-enter the old well," Hussain said.

In Moneefa, Aramco has 6 onshore-offshore rigs now, but next year drilling activities will increase.

"Moneefa is slowing down, the capacity that we have 12 million (bpd), we are not producing all the 12 million so there is no need really for production," Hussain said. (Reuters)

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