Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia's oil minister and head of Saudi Aramco, said last year was one of change for the industry, the kingdom and his company. File photo by Lisi Niesner/EPA.
July 6 (UPI) -- In an annual review, the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. said new wells drilling at a field near Riyadh could add another 300,000 barrels of oil per day by 2018.
The company known commonly as Saudi Aramco issued an annual review of operations during 2016, saying it was positioned to maintain its role as a global oil and gas supplier. Coming off a year that saw crude oil prices hit historic lows, Chairman and Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said 2016 brought a sea change to industry thinking.
"I believe that history, and indeed the near future, will prove that despite the discouraging business climate, 2016 was a turning point for both Saudi Aramco and the kingdom, as well as for the global oil and gas industry," he said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia is the de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the largest contributor to a multilateral effort to balance the global market with managed production declines that started in January. A report Thursday from S&P Global Platts said Saudi Arabia pumped out 9.97 million barrels of oil per day in June, up slightly from May, but still below the 10.06 million barrels per day allocated under the balancing effort.
In its review for last year, the company highlighted domestic developments as among major project achievements.
"We continued drilling wells to increase the production capacity of our Khurais field, located 90 miles southeast of Riyadh, by 300,000 barrels per day to raise current capacity from 1.2 million bpd to 1.5 million barrels per day by mid-2018," the company said.
Advancing in fits and starts since the late 1950s, the Khurais development has already added to Saudi Arabia's export capacity. With market watchers focused intensely on production and export levels, Ole Hanson, the head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, said earlier this week that some OPEC member states may find it advantageous to keep more of their oil at home to satisfy summer demand.
Falih said in a mid-June interview with newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that market fundamentals were pointing to the right side of balance, noting the OPEC-led effort "needs time to take effect."
Elsewhere, the company, which is preparing for a long-awaited initial public offering, said it renewed deals last year that would expand its storage capacity in Asia by 2 million barrels to 8.3 million barrels by the middle of the year.
Falih added that the Paris climate deal, which Saudi Arabia ratified last year, is bringing changes to the energy sector in its own right.
"However, we believe that the transition will be gradual, and the role of oil and gas in the global energy mix will remain significant for decades to come," he said.