In late November, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) announced the start of development of the vast Jafurah unconventional gas field, the largest non-associated gas field in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Company has awarded subsurface and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contracts worth $10 billion, with capital expenditure at Jafurah expected to reach $68 billion over the first 10 years of development.
It is a significant milestone both for the commercialization of unconventional resources in Saudi Arabia and the expansion of Aramco’s integrated gas portfolio, which will provide additional feedstock to support growth of the company’s high-value chemicals business, complement its focus on low-carbon hydrogen production and help reduce emissions in the domestic power sector by providing a cleaner-burning alternative to liquid fuel.
With an estimated 200 trillion standard cubic feet of gas in place, the Jafurah basin hosts the largest liquid-rich shale gas play in the Middle East. This shale play covers an area measuring 17,000 square kilometers and production of natural gas at Jafurah is expected to ramp up from 200 million standard cubic feet per day (scfd) in 2025 to reach a sustainable gas rate of two billion scfd of sales gas by 2030, with 418 million scfd of ethane and around 630,000 barrels per day of gas liquids and condensates, which are essential feedstock for the growing petrochemical industry. It will make Saudi Arabia one of the world’s largest natural gas producers.
The project is a key component of the company’s long-term strategy and Aramco expects total overall lifecycle investment at Jafurah to exceed $100 billion.
Aramco recently announced its ambition to achieve net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions across its wholly-owned operated assets by 2050. Jafurah is expected to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s goal of producing half of its electricity from gas and half from renewables as the Kingdom pursues its own 2060 net-zero target.
At peak production, Aramco’s unconventional gas program is expected to replace around half a million barrels of crude oil per day that would otherwise have been used for domestic consumption. The Jafurah gas development alone is expected to replace more than 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day at peak production.