Meeting the Global Demand for Gas

Saudi Aramco is well positioned to help the gas industry develop and utilize effective technology solutions to meet the challenges that lie ahead, Abdullah M. Al-Ghamdi, executive director of Gas Operations, said at the Gas Processors Association’s 23rd Annual Technical Conference last week in Bahrain. In his keynote address to conference participants at the Gulf International Convention Center, Al-Ghamdi said the increasing demand for gas worldwide reinforces the need for innovation and technology advancement and he expressed confidence that the industry — with Saudi Aramco continuing to play a key role — is prepared to face that test. His optimism is based on history. “The industry has always been confronted by challenges, irrespective of whether gas production and supply is in abundance or is in shortage due to difficulties in exploration, extraction, processing, or transportation, and we have overcome those challenges through technology advancements and innovation,” said Al-Ghamdi. The Fastest Growing Fuel He cited a recent report from the International Energy Agency that declared natural gas “the fastest growing fuel” — led by the power sector of Asian countries, which will account for almost 30% of that growth over the next 25 years. He added with 22% of proved global natural gas reserves existing in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, the region is poised to help meet that demand. Additionally, said Al-Ghamdi, sales gas production has increased steadily over the past two decades, with average yearly growth of 5.4% annually. Significant progress, he noted, has also been made in expanding the use of gas to the chemical sector, and more synergies are being looked at to expand even beyond the traditional petrochemical value chain with other natural resources. New applications for fertilizer, aluminum, and iron have already been discovered, said Al-Ghamdi, and one of the challenges for the industry is to seek even more innovative, non-traditional applications for natural gas. Saudi Aramco’s longstanding commitment to supporting innovation and the development of technology in all areas of energy production, said Al-Ghamdi, has paid significant dividends for Gas Operations. With research and development facilities located around the world, along with established collaborations with top tier national and international universities and institutions, the company continues to be a leader in the development of scientific advances. Since 2009, nearly 700 patent applications have been filed in the U.S. Patent Office by Saudi Aramco employees. Taking Steps for the Environment Another major challenge facing the gas industry during this time of growth and expansion, said Al-Ghamdi, was brought to light last month with the release of the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative report titled “More Energy, Lower Emissions.” The landmark declaration made by the collaboration of Saudi Aramco and nine other oil and gas companies expressed collective support for an effective global climate change agreement ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris. Energy efficiency practices and technologies such as zero gas flaring, clean fuels, and carbon capture and sequestration, are just a few examples of the innovations that are driving the industry forward on environmental stewardship, and Al-Ghamdi said the challenge now is to maintain the momentum gained by those advances. Master Gas System Saudi Aramco’s gas story, Al-Ghamdi pointed out, actually began in 1975 when the company launched the development of the Master Gas System with four key goals in mind: 1. Develop a foundation for an industrial base; 2. Diversify the national economy; 3. Add value to natural gas resources and its products; 4. Reduce the impact on the environment. Over the years, the Master Gas System led to significant developments such as seeing gas produced in association with crude oil captured, processed and provided to a wide array of industries and utilities that would otherwise consume petroleum products. Looking ahead, Al-Ghamdi said the company is looking at unconventional gas as a key energy source. In 2013, Saudi Aramco’s unconventional gas program became fully operational and just two years later, we are now prepared to commit shale gas for the development of a 1,000 megawatt power plant that will feed a massive phosphate mining and manufacturing sector.