Riyadh: Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil company, discovered natural gas in a northern area of the kingdom, the state-owned Saudi Press Agency said.

Preliminary reservoir tests of the Jalameed Well 3 showed commercial potential for tapping the gas, which flowed at a rate of 12.1 million cubic feet a day, the news agency said, citing Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi. It can produce larger quantities of gas under normal production conditions, and assessments will continue, the agency cited Al Naimi as saying.

Saudi Aramco and international oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc are exploring for gas in Saudi Arabia, where a lack of the fuel forces it to use more valuable crude oil to meet domestic needs.