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Saudi Arabia’s plan to challenge the USA

Precise looks at Saudi's plans for their own gas fracking breakthrough.

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Sometimes you could just kick yourself for being so smart, couldn’t you? That’s probably what the engineering wizards behind the US shale revolution are doing right now as the Saudis announced their own plans for a gas fracking breakthrough – and it’s all thanks to the hard work already done by the Americans.

The CEO of Saudi’s colossal state run energy giant Aramco Hjalid al-Falih told an investment conference in Riyadh, “Saudi Arabia will be the next (shale) frontier, especially in gas, and we couldn’t have done that without US innovation.” To that end, the company has announced it’s more than doubling its investment – up to $7 billion.

That’s right – not content with secretly increasing its oil production to 9.8m barrels per day, its highest level of output since last October in an ongoing bid to win its oil price war with US shale drillers and deliver a kick in the teeth to Iranian and Russia producers at the same time, the Saudis are now seriously going after the gas market too.

Senior Saudi Aramco Exploration Manager Ebrahim Assa’adan told Bloomberg News, “If we can get it (natural gas) by 2020, that will be good. We are in the reconnaissance phase, shooting regional seismic programs and drilling all over the country.”

Aramco is benefitting from the improved diagnostics achieved as a result of America’s so-called ‘shale gale’. It’s in the middle of discussions that could see it take a 30% stake in Frac Tec International, which is part owned by the US shale giant Chesapeake.

It’s already been made clear that while Saudi is happy to benefit from US innovations, it won’t be sharing the wealth. Aramco CEO Khalid Al-Falih estimates that the country could hold hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of gas. But he told reporters in December that the company would not seek international partners for its fracking activities.

Saudi Aramco has been seeking out gas supplies to meet the country’s large and increasing demand for feedstock for petrochemicals and power generation, where the Kingdom currently burns a mix of crudes.