DUBAI - State-owned oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Saudi Aramco, plans to invest $35 billion over the next five years in crude oil exploration and development in a bid to keep its oil production portfolio robust, the firm's chief executive said.
"We are continuing to strengthen our oil business to meet the rising call on our oil production; in fact, we plan to invest $35 billion over the next five years in crude oil exploration and development alone to keep our oil production portfolio robust," Khalid al-Falih said in a speech posted on Aramco's website.
"We are also planning to increase our conventional and unconventional gas supplies by almost 250% over the coming couple of decades," he said.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, plans to greatly increase gas production to meet domestic energy demand and free up crude oil for export. However, the country hasn't yet discovered non-associated natural gas in sufficient quantities to replace oil as the fuel for its planned electricity plants and guarantee cheap feedstock for new petrochemical factories.
Saudi Aramco is fully owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world with activities in exploration, production, refining, distribution, shipping and marketing.
Mr. al-Falih said that the Arab world's largest economy has many vast areas, which have still not been adequately assessed, and will be aggressively explored by Aramco.
The firm also hopes to diversify its energy portfolio and boost earnings from downstream activities by growing and integrating chemicals with its world-scale refining operations.
"If we succeed with our strategy we will be spending at least $500 million each year on chemicals-related technology, and creating a very large company of around 20-30,000 employees with well-paid jobs," Mr. al-Falih added.
Aramco has previously said it plans to increase its refining capacity to 8 million barrels per day from 4.02 million barrels per day in the next decade through expansion both at home and abroad.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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