Saudi Aramco plans to bring the giant Wasit gas plant on line in 2013, earlier than expected, as it speeds up gas output expansion to meet rising domestic demand.

The state-owned company is now focusing on raising gas output after completing a massive crude expansion program last year which took its oil production capacity to 12 million barrels per day.

Domestic demand for gas in the world’s largest oil exporter is growing 5% to 6% annually.

In April, Aramco’s chief executive Khalid al-Falih said Wasit would come on stream in 2014.

He also said that together with two other plants, Khursaniyah and Karan, Wasit would help Saudi Arabia process its targeted production increase of raw gas to 15.5 billion cubic feet per day by 2015 from 10.2 Bcfd.

However, he told Reuters the plant would start up a year earlier than planned.

Wasit is one of two new gas projects Aramco plans to develop. The other one is Shaybah natural gas liquids plant, for which Falih said construction contracts would be awarded in the first quarter of next year, with a 2014 start-up in the frame.

Wasit has the capacity to process 2.5 Bcfd of gas from non-associated offshore sour gas fields Arabiyah and Hasbah. It would also produce around 1.75 Bcfd of sales gas.

Aramco is currently reviewing onshore bids for Wasit while bidding for Shaybah is still ongoing.

(Source: upstreamonline)