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Aramco to Start Khursaniyah Gas Plant Soon

Source: Reuters 10/25/2009, Location: Middle East

Saudi Aramco's gas processing plant at Khursaniyah was expected to start partial operations in a few weeks, two contracting sources said on Sunday. Delays in construction at the plant delayed the whole 500,000 barrels per day Khursaniyah oilfield development project, one of the largest in Saudi expansion plans as the kingdom boosted crude production capacity to 12.5 million bpd.

Khursaniyah oilfield started output in September 2008, even though the gas plant was incomplete. The whole project was initially scheduled to start in December 2007. A shortage in labour and materials led to the delay at the gas plant.

The plant has capacity to process around 1 billion cubic feet per day (cfd) of sour gas from the Abu Hadriya, Fadhili and Khursaniyah fields. It has three trains each with a capacity of 600 million cfd and would also process gas from the Karan offshore field.

"Pre-commissioning of Train 1 will be completed within a weeks time... Trains 2 and 3 will be ready for start-up by the end of February," one contractor.

The facility would have the capacity to produce 560 million cfd of sales gas and 280,000 barrels per day (bpd) of ethane and natural gas liquids (NGL).

About 450 million (cfd) of gas from the first phase of the Karan gas project is expected to come online by mid-2011, Aramco said on its website last week. The field would eventually have capacity to pump 1.8 billion cfd of gas daily. In 2005, Aramco awarded France's Technip and U.S. Bechtel the contract to build the plant at the 500,000 bpd Khursaniyah oilfield.

Demand for gas in the kingdom for power and industry is soaring due to an economic boom fuelled by the oil price rally of 2002-2008.

As most Saudi gas is produced in association with oil, volumes fluctuate with oil production. Saudi oil output was at lowest in more than six years earlier in 2009 as the kingdom and OPEC curbed output to match rapidly falling demand. This has left gas supply in the kingdom tight.

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