Saudi Aramco Divides Block Near Ghaware by 10% for Buffer

Saudi Aramco has cut part of one of the blocks being offered for gas exploration by 10%, an industry source said Wednesday. The cut comes to a block in the country's eastern region near Aramco's base of operations near Ghaware, the biggest oil field in the world. "It's now going to be SARA-plus," the source said, referring to the Aramco's proven undeveloped gas reserves known as SARA.

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.