South Rub al-Khali (SRAK), a Saudi Arabian joint venture between Shell and Saudi Aramco, has landed an extension to its drilling programme in the kingdom’s Empty Quarter.
The 18-month extension is for the first exploration period, which includes a drilling programme of seven gas wells, Muhammad Ibn Awad al-Qhtani, SRAK’s head of external affairs, told Bloomberg in a telephone interview.
The extension will allow more time to explore for further natural gas reserves, al-Qhtani said.
SRAK started drilling its fourth exploration well, Kiran-6, in March, according to a SRAK statement issued on 25 March.
The venture failed to find natural gas on three previous tries.
French giant Total withdrew from SRAK in February because the venture failed to find gas and transferred its shares to the other partners.
Shell held 40% of the project and Saudi Aramco had 30% before Total gave up its stake.
The companies agreed in July 2003 to explore for gas in an area of 200,000 square kilometres in the Rub al-Khali desert.
Total and Shell became the first Western companies to win rights to develop Saudi Arabia’s energy reserves after they were nationalised in the 1970s.
Saudi Arabia awarded the contract to boost its gas reserves from the current volume of 250 trillion cubic feet.