Annual revenue from natural gas
and related industries is expected to more than double from SR41.3
billion ($11 billion) in 1998 to more than SR86.3 billion ($23
billion) within the next five years, according to an official report.
The new estimate
is released following the signing of agreements with eight
international energy companies to carry out three major gas projects
in various parts of the Kingdom. The new projects, part of the
Kingdom’s prestigious gas initiative, are expected to attract more
than $100 billion (SR375 billion) in foreign investment and create
thousands of jobs for Saudi youths. Some 32,000 people — 70 percent
of them Saudis — are employed in the gas sector and related
industries at present.
Saudi employees in
the sector earn an average annual salary of $40,000, making a combined
earning of $900 million a year. Previously, foreign technical experts
manned most of the jobs in the oil and gas sectors. Today, the case is
different. There are thousands of qualified Saudis capable of taking
up various jobs in the two vital sectors.
companies have offered to invest in the gas projects without
preconditions considering Saudi Arabia’s strategic position in
international consumer markets. In addition, Riyadh has maintained
strong relations with oil producing and consuming countries.
Saudi Arabia is
considered one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of
petrochemicals that bring a lot of revenue to the state coffers.
Demand for petrochemicals is increasing day by day with annual sales
of ethylene alone standing at three million tons.
The swift energy
supply line project, covering all parts of the Kingdom, will promote
industries not only at the two industrial cities of Jubail and Yanbu
but also in other parts of the country. A total of SR42.5 billion have
been invested in the country’s eight industrial cites which house
cities, which cover a total area of 63 million square meters, are
awaiting quick expansion as 40 percent of industrial projects in the
country are now located outside the industrial zones causing a host of
environmental problems. The government also plans to establish six new
industrial cities in Abha, Madinah, Jouf, Tabuk, Hail and Najran with
a total area of 28 million square meters.
Under the gas
initiative, foreign companies will explore natural gas, develop
existing gas fields, set up associated projects such as recovery and
processing plants, and construct pipeline network, power and water
desalination plants, and petrochemical projects.
use of natural gas as a main source energy is a strategic decision
taken by the Kingdom. Natural gas is used widely in the Eastern
Province, especially by electricity generating and water desalination