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No decision on increase of drilling rigs: Aramco

MANAMA, March 9, 2015

National oil firm Saudi Aramco is currently operating a total of 212 oil and gas drilling rigs and has not decided whether to increase that number this year, a senior executive said on Monday.

Amin Nasser, senior vice-president for upstream operations at Aramco, gave the figure when speaking to reporters at an energy industry conference in Bahrain.

Aramco deployed 210 oil and gas rigs in 2014, an exceptionally busy year, company sources had said previously.

Nasser said the company had not decided whether to increase the number of rigs in 2015, but would wait to see production demand. "It depends on the requirements."

Industry sources said on Monday that so far, Aramco's drilling plans for 2015 looked likely to remain unchanged for oil, but there could be an increase in gas rigs as Saudi Arabia's domestic demand for gas was rising.

Saudi Aramco has asked international oil service companies for 25 per cent discounts because of the plunge in oil prices since last June.

"They want to lock the discount for a period of a year," one source said.

Another said: "Aramco reviews its drilling plan every quarter in light of the oil prices."

Nasser said in a speech, "When services and materials are cheaper, it makes sense to leverage lower cost given market parameters, and I will add that we need our service providers to optimise their own cost and improve their own efficiencies and manage their own expectations of profitability through a long-range plan."

An industry source told Reuters that at present, the expectation was for Aramco's oil rig count in the second quarter of this year to be 110, with 96 rigs for gas. In the last quarter of the year, the expectation was for 108 oil rigs and 102 gas rigs.-Reuters

Tags: Saudi Aramco | drilling rigs |

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