Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi has announced that the consortium of the Italian oil company ENI and the Spanish oil company Repsol had signed the agreement for exploration and production of non-associated gas in Area C in the northern part of the Empty Quarter (Rub Al-Khali), which covers about 52,000 square kilometers. ENI will have 50 percent of the shares of the new company to be established for the exploration and production of the gas, with 30 percent to Repsol and 20 percent to the national oil company Saudi Aramco.
Earlier, Minister Al-Naimi had announced the Russian company Lukoil as the successful bidder for Area B, and the Chinese company Sinopec for Area A. Signing of the final agreements on the three new companies to be formed will take place during the month of March, 2004, as approved by the Cabinet and the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura). All the winning companies have committed to the employment and training of Saudi nationals, and the promotion of local contractors and service providers.