Aramco to double power capacity by 2015

State oil group Saudi Aramco plans to double its power generation capacity to 4 gigawatts by 2015 as it brings new projects on stream, an Aramco executive said on Sunday.

"Currently we have approximately 2,000 megawatts of generating power internally ... we want ... to go to 4 to 4.5 gigawatts depending on new facilities that are coming," Ziyad al-Shiha, executive director of power systems at Aramco, said at an industry conference.

"We will try to generate this power in the most efficient way, reaching 75 percent, which is the highest in the world," Al-Shiha said, adding that power efficiency in the OECD countries was close to an average of 39 percent.

State utility Saudi Electricity Co (SEC) had said it may revise its $80 billion investment plans in the 10 years to 2018 to boost capacity to at least 80,000 megawatts by 2020.

The kingdom's water and electricity minister said on Saturday an investment of 330 billion riyals ($88 billion) is needed over the next 10 years as demand for electricity continues to grow 7 to 8 percent annually.

Saudi Aramco generates power both through third-party companies that operate and produce electricity and also through its own power assets, al-Shiha added.

The company has cogeneration plants in Berri, Uthmaniyah, Qatif, Abqaiq, Riyadh, Yanbu, Jeddah, Shaybah, Juaymah, Shedgum, Ras Tanura. Cogeneration lowers carbon dioxide emissions and raises energy efficiency. 

"Some of them are third parties, some of them are owned and operated by us," he said, adding these plants cover almost 50 percent of Aramco's power needs. "By 2015 we will be covering 100 percent."

Asked about the launch of Powerco -- a company which will hold the power and steam generation assets of Aramco -- al-Shiha said: "We haven't made decisions yet."

If the rate of energy consumption growth is not reduced, the world's largest oil exporter could see oil available for export drop some 3 million barrels per day (bpd) to less than 7 million bpd in 2028, Khalid al-Falih, chief executive of Aramco said last year.

With demand remaining buoyant through 2030, more than 3 million barrels of oil equivalent would be burned in the power industry alone, al-Shiha said.

"Between reducing or increasing the efficiency of the supply and enhancing the efficiency of the demand, I think the kingdom can save thousands and hundreds of thousands of (barrels of) oil equivalent," he said.

The company can also save gas, used for generating power, by raising efficiency, al-Shiha said. "We can make available 1 billion standard cubic feet of gas ... that is being burnt inefficiently ... that can generate mainly 6 gigawatts."

Al-Shiha said Aramco is installing a 10 megawatt solar plant to power an engineering building housing 3,500 people as the kingdom wants to diversify its energy mix away from depending on oil alone.

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