The original block was going to be managed by ExxonMobil as part of the now-dead Saudi Gas Initiative linking upstream gas exploration and downstream utilities like power and water desalination plants.
The project was re-launched in July as an upstream-only deal with some 40 foreign companies invited to submit bids. Shell has already struck a deal to explore a block in Shaybah in the south.
The source said Aramco wanted a buffer between it and any gas fields that might be found near Ghaware to protect it.
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