July 6, 2017 / 12:52 PM / 22 days ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Saudi Aramco's 2016 oil reserves slip, gas up -annual review

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(Corrects to say the review made no reference to updates of the IPO process in paragraph 5)

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia, July 6 (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco IPO-ARMO.SE said on Thursday its recoverable crude oil and condensate reserves slipped to 260.8 billion barrels at the end of 2016 from 261.1 billion a year earlier.

Its gas reserves rose to 298.7 trillion standard cubic feet from 297.6 trillion, Saudi Aramco said in its 2016 annual review.

The company said it had discovered two new oilfields, Jubah and Sahaban, and one new gas field, Hadidah, all located in the Eastern Province, the main oil region in Saudi Arabia, the world's top crude exporter.

Saudi Arabia's national oil company plans to list a stake through an initial public offering in 2018 which is expected to be the world's biggest IPO.

The review did not make a reference to updates of the IPO.

Aramco, which has exclusive rights to explore and develop Saudi Arabia's oil and gas, boosted oil production to a new record of 10.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2016, from 10.2 million bpd in 2015, it said in the review.

Its oil exports rose to 7.6 million bpd in 2016 from 7.1 million bpd in 2015. Asia still accounts for the lion's share of Saudi Aramco's exports at 66 percent, up from 65 percent in 2015, followed by exports to the United States, whose share dropped to 15.8 percent from 16.6 percent in 2015.

Aramco has also raised processing capacity of raw gas to 12 billion standard cubic feet per day (scfd).

After raw gas is processed, output of sales gas or methane, used mainly for electricity and petrochemicals, hit a new record of 8.3 billion scfd.

Ethane production, the favourite feedstock for petrochemicals was also higher to 920 million scfd from 794 million scfd in 2015.

Saudi Aramco plans to double its gas production to 23 billion scfd in a decade by including "unconventional gas" in the mix and by continuing to develop gas non-associated with oil to help it limit the use of oil in power generation and provide feedstock to the petrochemical industry it is keen to grow.

Its share of chemical production capacity almost doubled to 13,285 kilotonnes per year from 7,016 kilotonnes per year in 2015.

Its Wasit gas plant fed by non-associated gas from offshore fields Hasbah and Arabiyah hit full capacity of 2.5 billion scfd. Aramco said more than 40 percent of non-associated gas now comes from the two fields. Progress continued to be made in the unconventional gas programme as the company completed wells in northern Saudi Arabia to deliver 55 million scfd of gas by year-end 2017 to industrial and electrical power facilities in the Wa'ad Al Shamal industrial city, a phosphate project run by Saudi mining company Ma'aden.

Saudi Aramco has responded to the challenges of the industry by lowering costs of its operations across the board.

As part of technological advancements, it said in the review it implemented new techniques to lower gas production costs such as the use resin-enhanced local sand to fracture a gas well with further trials to follow this year.

Another gas project Midyan is almost complete, it said while on the oil side, the expansion of Arab Light Khurais oilfield to 1.5 million bpd will be on stream by mid-2018.

Midyan is one of the new gas fields in northwest Saudi Arabia to produce gas for power plants and potentially supply other industries in a region rich in iron ore deposits.

It was discovered in the 1980s and has significant reserves. (Reporting by Reem Shamseddine; editing by Rania El Gamal and David Evans)

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