Saudi Aramco is exploring investment opportunities to invest in gas projects globally to meet soaring domestic consumption, according to Ahmad AlSa'adi, senior vice president of technical services at Saudi Aramco.

Speaking to AlArabiya TV, AlSa’adi said that gas projects for Saudi Aramco are key for the company due to the soaring domestic consumption from both residential and industrial sector, mainly for power generation and petrochemical industry, which highlight the importance of such projects to meet the Kingdom 2030 vision.

To achieve this target, and to meet the soaring consumption, AlSa’adi said that the company is studying various investment opportunities locally and globally. He also said that the company is currently reviewing various options including investing in gas projects globally, adding that the company has “all what it takes to expand its gas investments globally, including the know-how and the right expertise to achieve its objectives.”

Commenting on the 34 contracts, which amount to $18 billion, that Saudi Aramco awarded for the engineering, procurement and construction of the Marjan and Berri increment programs, and aims to plans to boost the Marjan and Berri fields’ production capacity by 550,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of Arabian crude oil and 2.5 billion cubic feet a day (Bcf/d) of gas, AlSa’adi said that the two contracts signed are considered as one of the mega projects awarded to develop offshore fields.

“Marjan increment project will increase the company’s gas production by 16%,” Al Sa'adi said. “These projects are set to be completed by in less than four years. We anticipate the projects to be completed by April 2023, less than 4 years from now, which is the norm for such mega projects.”

The Marjan increment program is an integrated development project for oil, associated gas, non-associated gas and cap gas from the Marjan offshore field. This development program includes a new offshore gas oil separation plant, and 24 offshore oil, gas and water injection platforms.

The company also plans to expand its Tanajib onshore oil facilities and construct a new gas plant, to include gas treatment and processing, NGL recovery and fractionation, and gas compression facilities. A cogeneration facility will be developed, in addition to a water desalination facility and new transfer pipelines. The offshore oilfield development project aims to increase the Marjan Field production by 300,000 bbl/d of Arabian medium crude oil, process 2.5 Bcf/d of gas, and produce an additional 360,000 bbl/d of C2+NGL.

Meanwhile, through the Berri increment program, the company plans to add 250,000 bbl/d of Arabian light crude per day from the offshore oilfield.

The planned facilities will, upon completion, include a new gas oil separation plant in Abu Ali Island to process 500,000 bbl/d of Arabian Light Crude Oil per day, and additional gas processing facilities at the Khursaniyah gas plant to process 40,000 bbl/d of associated hydrocarbon condensate.

The program includes a new water injection facility, two drilling islands, 11 oil and water offshore platforms and nine onshore oil production and water supply drill sites.

In addition to the Marjan progam, AlSa’adi said that Saudi Aramco is set to start Fadhili gas plant this year, which will process 2.5Bcf/d. “Designed to process up to 2.5 Bcf/d of raw gas, Fadhili will be our first plant to treat non-associated gas from both onshore and offshore fields, with startup planned in 2019,” he said.

The plant was designed from inception to use the tail gas treatment process to reach the maximum sulfur recovery rate of 99.9%, helping protect air quality.

AlSa’adi also said that company has completed the development of Madyan gas field in the Red Sea, north of Dhuba Port in Tabuk. “The field produces 75 MMcf/d, and mainly feeds power generation plant in the area,” he said.

The Madyan field was found in the 1980s and recent estimates prove the field has considerable reserves.

“We have made huge discoveries in the Red Sea, and we have a big exploration program there as well, with development projects are still under review,” he added.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia energy minister Khalid Al Falih said that Saudi Arabia discovered large quantities of gas in the Red Sea, adding that the company will conduct an investment feasibility study of the project and accordingly intensify exploration over the next two years.

Compared to the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea remains underexplored due to its rough seafloor topography, complicated geology under thick salt deposits and its pristine ecosystem. In addition, drilling costs can be a deterrent, with the average deepwater rig cost at about $600 million.

A key difference between the Gulf and the Red Sea is water depth. The Arabian Gulf is one the world’s shallowest seas with depths rarely exceeding 100 m (328 ft). The Red Sea has depths of up to 10 times that amount.