By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Sept. 6 -- A joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Total SA, and Saudi Aramco has begun exploratory drilling for nonassociated gas and condensate in the southern part of Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter.
The venture, South Rub al-Khali Co. Ltd. (SRAK), has spudded Isharat 1, the first of seven wells planned over the next 28 months. It has been shooting seismic surveys toward a commitment of acquiring at least 16,000 km of 2D data during a 5-year exploratory period.
SRAK moved components of the rig 2,000 km from Dubai to the location of Isharat 1, drilling of which is expected to take 4 months.
SRAK holds two blocks covering 50,000 sq km near Shaybah oil field and 160,000 sq km next to the border with Yemen under a November 2003 concession. Shell holds a 40% interest in the venture, and Total and Aramco hold 20% each.
The Saudi government retains control over development in the event of an oil discovery.
In 2004 it signed three similar agreements with international ventures involving Aramco for gas-only exploration and production in the Empty Quarter's northern area.