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President and CEO of Saudi Aramco, Khalid A. Al-Falih

Saudi Aramco plans to produce 200 million cubic feet per day (cfd) of unconventional natural gas by 2018 to supply a new phosphate project and a power plant, an industry source to Reuters.

The shale gas will be used for Saudi Arabia’s power generation to save more crude for export.

Aramco CEO Khalid Al-Falih said last year the company would provide gas a planned 1,000 megawatt power plant.

The plant will feed a phosphate mining project that Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Maaden) is developing for the Waad Al Shamal Mining City, Reuters said.

Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi — who used to run Aramco — has said the country has estimated unconventional gas reserves of more than 600 trillion cubic feet, more than double its proven conventional reserves.

That would put Saudi Arabia fifth in a 32-country shale gas reserves ranking compiled for the US Energy Information Administration, Reuters said.