Saudi Arabia's natural gas liquids production on track to meet domestic demand

Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz says percentage of ethane's undersupply domestically is only 4.5%

A damaged installation in Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq oil processing plant is pictured on September 20. Afp
A damaged installation in Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq oil processing plant is pictured on September 20. Afp

Saudi Arabia has made headway in restoring the production of its natural gas liquids (NGL) after attacks on its oil installations earlier this month, Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said.

The kingdom's production of ethane gas has reached 900 million standard cubic feet per day. The total domestic demand is 940 million standard cubic feet per day, so the percentage of ethane's undersupply is only 4.5 per cent, Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement carried by the state-run news agency SPA.

The operation of the NGL plant in the Shaybah field allows the kingdom to meet all of its domestic demand by the end of this week, without any reduction in the supply of ethane to local companies and factories, he said.

Saudi Arabia, which accounts for 12 per cent of global crude supply, suffered its biggest production outage from attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities on September 14, which the US has blamed on Iran.

The attacks damaged crude-processing plants at Abqaiq and the Khurais oilfield, cutting the kingdom's daily production output by 5.7 million barrels, and causing oil prices to surge as high as 20 per cent, before they receded.

The lost output, which is equivalent to 5 per cent of global production, superseded supply shocks during the 1979 Iranian revolution and Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, according to the International Energy Agency.

Brent, the international benchmark for buyers and sellers of crude, was trading at $61.39 at 9.05am UAE time and West Texas Intermediate, the US reference price, was trading at $56.48. Saudi Arabia has recovered faster than expected from the incident and is ahead of schedule by about a week in restoring capacity. Aramco has boosted total production capacity to more than 11 million barrels per day, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

Prince Abdulaziz also said the country can meet its domestic demand without any reduction in supplies for natural gas which includes propane, butane and natural gasoline. The kingdom's NGL production is about 880,000 bpd, compared with domestic demand of 792,000 bpd, he said.

Production at the NGL Shaybah field plant will reach 960,000 bpd, by the end of this week, Prince Abdulaziz said.

Updated: September 26, 2019 01:13 PM

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