Signing imminent for Empty Quarter gas venture

20 November 2003
A signing ceremony is due to be held on 16 November in Riyadh between the consortium comprising Royal Dutch/Shell Group, France's Totaland Saudi Aramco, and the Petroleum & Mineral Resources Ministry for the project to handle upstream development of non-associated gas resources in the Empty Quarter. The signing was scheduled after the early November approval of the deal by the Supreme Petroleum Council, which co-ordinates and oversees the hydrocarbons sector. The deal has also been given the green light by the Council of Ministers, the Majlis al-Shoura (consultative council) and the board of Saudi Aramco.

Once the signing takes place, the next steps on the estimated $2,000 million project will be the incorporation of the joint venture company and the start of exploration activity in January. The exploration area covers about 200,000 square kilometres in the Rub al-Khali area in the southeast, which was originally assigned to core venture 3 of the Saudi gas initiative. Under the terms of the agreement, Shell will assume the role of operator on the exploration, production and development and take a 40 per cent stake in the venture, with the remaining 60 per cent evenly split between Total and Aramco (MEED 31:10:03).

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