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Arabia enjoys oil and gas records despite global lows

15/04/2016 by Sharon Shahzad


While much of the world’s oil and gas industry is facing a challenging period with low prices attributing to difficult trading, the Arabian Peninsula is experiencing a record number of gas and oil drilling rigs. During March, it was revealed that almost 290 rigs are active across Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.

The latest numbers have been reported by oilfield services firm, Baker Hughes. It shows that the number of active rigs has actually increased by 50, despite oil prices having begun falling in mid-2014. In fact, over the past five years, rig numbers have almost doubled. This means that operations across the Arabian Peninsula now account for almost 30 per cent of the world’s rigs outside North America. This is an 18 per cent increase from when price declines began. Some experts within the industry have suggested the reason for the uptick is that Saudi Arabia is keen to defend, or perhaps increase, its current oil market share.

The majority of current output stems from mature fields that have been in operation for many years. Some of the biggest oilfields have been in operation for decades, with Dammam, Abqaiq and Qatif discovered in 1938, 1940 and 1945, respectively. Other large fields include Safaniya, Khurais, Berri and Shaybah. Though many of these fields were immediately activated for extraction, most have been producing gas and oil for many decades. As is expected, the oil-to-water production ratio in these places is continuing to fall as the natural reservoir energy volumes decline. However, production levels have remained consistently high because Saudi Aramco and its many contractors have drilled additional wells. They have also begun using enhanced oil recovery techniques to sweep naturally lying oil towards the wells to aid recovery.

With domestic customers placing more demand on energy, Saudi Arabia has been upping its output. The nation boosted its 2002 output average of 7.6 million barrels a day to 9.7 million barrels in 2014. For the third quarter of 2015, it’s reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration that 10.7 million barrels were produced. However, attempting to sustain such output efforts is a great task as natural field declines are offset by increasing production. Drilling, for example, has been gaining ground over the past 20 years. Meanwhile, the nation has attempted to develop more gas-powered facilities for domestic use, allowing them to conserve oil for export.

Overall, as the global oil and gas industry faces difficulty, there seems to be no let up for Saudi Arabia as the market goes from strength to strength.

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