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Revenue from gas sector to double in 5 years
 Riyadh, 10th Jun 2001

   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.

The international 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 1,299 projects.

These industrial 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.

The 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 plants.

Source: Arab News©

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