Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi stated his country intentions to step up exploration to boost its natural gas reserves by around 40% over the next 10 years in order to meet rising domestic demand.
"We are planning to add in the next 10 years 100 trillion cubic feet to our current reserves of gas," Reuters quoted Naimi as telling a conference on economic development in Riyadh.
The kingdom holds the world’s fourth largest natural gas reserves at 252 tcf, Naimi said.
Saudi Arabia faces increasing demand for natural gas from its rapidly growing population and new petrochemical and industrial projects.
Domestic gas sales were expected to rise by 40% through 2012 from the current level of around 7 billion cubic feet per day, Naimi said.
The kingdom plans to drill 186 exploration wells for gas and 332 development wells by 2012, Naimi said.
The kingdom has opened its gas fields to international companies to help meet demand growth. The upstream oil sector of the world’s largest crude exporter is off limits to foreign investors.
Four consortia of European, Russian and Chinese companies were awarded gas exploration blocs in the Empty Quarter in 2003 and 2004.