Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who is currently on a tour of the Eastern Province, today inaugurated the Al-Hawiyya gas plant, which, owned by Saudi Aramco, is one of the world's largest.
In his speech on the occasion, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi declared that Saudi Arabia, ranking as the biggest oil producer and exporter and possessing the largest oil reserves, has become the world's main factor for stability in the oil market in terms of supply and price. This steady position of preserving the interests of both producing and consuming countries has won the world's respect, he said, and cited the recent unanimous decision in Osaka, Japan to establish a General Secretariat for the International Energy Forum with Riyadh as its headquarters, as proposed by Crown Prince Abdullah.
Minister Al-Naimi went on to explain the Kingdom's gas strategy as three-fold. First, recent discoveries have doubled reserves of non-associated gas over the last ten years. With 224 trillion cubic feet, the Kingdom possesses the world's fourth largest reserves, and is among the ten largest producers and consumers of natural gas. Second, utilities have been expanded, and production of natural gas has increased from 3 billion cubic feet in the mid-90s to 5.8 today, with production of natural gas liquids almost doubling, to 700,000 barrels per day. Supplies of ethane, a popular feedstock for the petrochemical industry, have also increased. Third, new plants are being established: Al-Hawiyya, which will increase gas productivity by 30 percent, will be followed next year by the Haradh plant, and the Al-Barri plant, also scheduled for next year, will extract ethane from the production of Al-Hawiyya and Haradh. In a statement yesterday, Minister Al-Naimi commented that natural gas will gradually replace oil by-products in Saudi power generation stations, thereby preserving petroleum for export and contributing to the development of the Kingdom's petrochemical industry.