How to save a billion dollars from Saudi Arabia’s controversial oil and gas project
Saudi Arabia is hoping to develop a vast oil and natural gas reserves of nearly $40 trillion, and to do so by producing it in a process that has been heavily criticized for polluting the environment.
The kingdom’s decision to use hydraulic fracturing to drill deep into the Earth’s mantle for natural gas is a key step in that plan, but it has sparked a fierce debate among environmentalists and some in the industry over whether the technique is safe.
Environmentalists have long argued that hydraulic fracturing – also known as fracking – is the most environmentally friendly and environmentally benign of the three fracking methods used in the United States.
Saudi Arabia is a big player in shale gas and other unconventional energy sources, but critics argue that its vast resources make it the world’s most significant energy producer and a major source of greenhouse gases.
Saudi Aramco, which has developed the country’s oil and energy sector, has proposed a new drilling technique called horizontal drilling that involves drilling deep into Earth’s crust.
The drilling process involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and sandbags into deep rock formations, and the resulting gas is then extracted using a massive hydraulic press.
The process, known as hydraulic fracturing, has been widely used by US shale companies, which have pumped billions of gallons of gas into deep underground wells across the country.
Environmental groups have argued that horizontal drilling – which involves injecting gas into rock formations – is an environmentally destructive method, and is likely to contaminate the environment and disrupt natural ecosystems.
Critics of horizontal drilling, such as the American Petroleum Institute, argue that it has led to a “drilling rush” in the US, leading to a rise in fracking and a rise of methane pollution, which they say is the main cause of global warming.
Saudi officials have said that horizontal fracking is safe, and that its impact on the environment is negligible.
But many environmental groups have said the drilling technique, which involves drilling through rock, will not help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will harm the environment in the long term.
Saudi leaders have said they would not allow the controversial drilling technique to go ahead without approval from the United Nations, which regulates the international oil industry.
Last month, the United Arab Emirates announced that it would block the Saudi Aramco project, citing its “unacceptable environmental damage”.
The United States has said it will not allow Saudi Aramcom to proceed.
“Saudi Aramcom is a multinational company, not a sovereign state, and should not be allowed to drill without UN approval,” the US State Department said in a statement.
The company, owned by Saudi Arabian state oil company Saudi Aramcos, has said that it intends to proceed with its horizontal drilling project, but has said the project has “significant risks” and is “likely to damage the environment”.
Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company Aramco and its subsidiary Saudi Aramin have also criticised the US decision to block the project.US President Donald Trump’s administration has repeatedly accused the country of being an “enemy” of the US and is pushing to roll back President Barack Obama’s climate change agenda, which calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emission from US power plants.
Environmental group Greenpeace has called on the Trump administration to review its stance.
“This latest setback highlights the need for the US to take a strong stand against the Saudi Arabian Government and its aggressive use of hydraulic fracturing,” the group said in the statement.
“We urge the Trump Administration to ensure that all US companies that seek to develop shale gas resources in the Middle East are subject to international environmental and human rights standards, and we urge the US administration to halt its reckless decision to ban hydraulic fracturing in the U.S.”
The US State Dept. said it was “monitoring the situation” with the UN and that it will continue to monitor the development of the project in the Gulf.