Saudi Arabia increased its oil exports by 325,000 barrels a day (bpd) in August compared with July to 7.795 million bpd, the latest official data published by the Joint Data Initiative (JODI) showed.
Saudi Arabia produced 10.19 million bpd of crude, up 156,000 bpd from July, official Saudi government data available through the JODI website showed.
A top executive of Saudi Aramco recently indicated that Saudi Arabia is preparing to be among the first countries outside North America to use shale gas for power generation and thereby save more of its crude oil for lucrative exports.
Inspired by a shale gas boom in the US, which has transformed the country from the world’s largest gas importer to a budding exporter, Riyadh plans to take its first steps to commercialize its own large unconventional deposits.
“We are ready to start producing our own shale gas and unconventional resources in various types in the next few years and deliver them to consumers,” Saudi Aramco CEO Khalid Al-Falih said at the World Energy Congress in South Korea.
“Only two years after launching our own unconventional gas program, in the northern region of Saudi Arabia, we are ready to commit gas for the development of a 1,000 MW power plant which will feed a massive phosphate mining and manufacturing sector,” said Al-Falih.
The Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Maaden) plans to invest in a phosphate project which is part of a new industrial city called Waad Al-Shimal City for Mining Industries, with production expected to start by the end of 2016.
By unlocking its gas reserves, Saudi Arabia could use the fuel to power its domestic economy and allow more room for oil sales to world markets.
Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi has given an estimate of over 600 trillion cubic feet of unconventional gas reserves, more than double its proven conventional reserves.
That would put Saudi Arabia fifth in a 32-country shale gas reserves ranking compiled for the US Energy Information Administration.
China tops the list and has already signed production-sharing deals and awarded exploration blocks as it targets output of 6.5 billion cubic meters a year by 2015.
Saudi Aramco has been mapping unconventional reserves in the hope it will help meet an expected doubling of demand by 2030 in a country that bans gas imports.
It has carried out appraisal drilling and piloting of three prospective areas for unconventional gas in the northwest, in south Ghawar and for condensate-rich shale gas in the Rubí Al-Khali.
The gas will feed a proposed power plant in Jazan, which will be connected to a 400,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery.
Saudi Aramco hopes to complete the project by early 2017, Al-Falih said.