Saudi Arabia's largest chemical company has announced plans to invest in U.S. shale gas production, after finding its own country has little natural gas to spare.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world's second-biggest chemicals manufacturer, recently signed an agreement with the large Houston shale pipeline firm Enterprise Products Partners LP "to expand their investment in U.S. shale gas projects," according to the U.S.-Saudi Business Council.

The CEO of the Saudi company, Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan, announced the venture to Bloomberg News in an interview from Riyadh. The news came after Al-Benyan delivered the company's latest earnings report that showed a large uptick in revenue from the previous quarter's slump.

The U.S.-Saudi Business Council, which works to promote investment between the two countries, said Tuesday that Al-Benyan "described how it is difficult for the company to grow in Saudi Arabia due to the shortage of gas [there]." By contrast, the U.S. is now the top producer of natural gas, where storage remains high and prices remain at record lows — below $3 per unit of natural gas.

Shale gas is produced through the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which forces water into tight rock formations deep underground to extract gas and oil.

Saudi Arabia is not a top five natural gas producer. The gas it does produce, usually alongside oil wells, is typically flared, until in recent years where it has been diverted toward electricity production. Its smaller Gulf neighbor, Qatar, is the region's leading producer with Iran. The only country that comes close to U.S. natural gas production is Russia, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Gas production grew 85 percent between 2012 and June 2015 in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in the eastern United States, according to data released Tuesday by the Energy Information Administration. Bloomberg mentioned the Marcellus' region's strong growth as a possible reason for the Saudi move.

The company had bought substantial assets for plastics manufacturing in 2007 and announced in April that it would be expanding operations in the U.S. and China. Natural gas is key for its operations.

Al-Benyan told Bloomberg that the "main areas in the U.S. we are looking to invest in are the Northeast and the South as they fit our overall expectations including government support, labor laws and unions." But the Saudi firm is "not looking to acquire any U.S. companies."

The company "will not be directly involved in Saudi Arabia's shale production but instead they will use the [natural gas] feedstock in the U.S. or export it to other countries such as the U.K.," according to the business council's news brief. The company has facilities in the United Kingdom designed specifically to make use of U.S. shale gas, according to Bloomberg.

The Energy Information Administration tracked foreign investment in the U.S. due to the shale gas boom when it started in 2013, said Jonathan Cogan, a spokesman for the agency. But he says the agency hasn't done much reporting since then.

The wave of foreign investment back then was led by China, according to an April 2013 agency analysis. "In early 2013, Sinochem, a Chinese company, entered into a $1.7 billion joint venture with Pioneer Natural Resources to acquire a stake in the Wolfcamp shale play in West Texas," according to the Energy Information Administration. "This investment highlights a renewed trend toward foreign joint ventures."

The analysis says that since 2008, foreign companies have entered into 21 joint ventures with U.S. companies and have invested more than $26 billion in oil and shale gas formations.

Foreign investments in U.S. gas production accounted for 20 percent of all shale investments between 2008 and 2012. The total investment from foreign and domestic sources reached $133 billion during that period, the federal agency said.

A more recent update on foreign investment on shale might suggest why the Energy Information Administration is no longer tracking foreign investment in the U.S. That's because it is busy tracking how foreign countries such as China are attempting to replicate the shale process in their own countries.

Even Saudi Arabia has begun developing its own shale resources, but the U.S. agency says only four countries are making it worthwhile: the U.S., Canada, China and Argentina. The latter two countries are the most recent members of the shale club, according to a June 26 analysis. Other countries are still hoping to make their shale efforts commercial, it says.

"Beyond these four countries, other countries have started exploring hydrocarbons from shale and other tight resources, but they are still short of reaching commercial production," the agency said. The U.S. is tracking Poland, Algeria, Australia, Colombia and Russia. But it is Mexico's recent forays that see the most promise, it says.

Saudi Arabia's nascent attempts at shale production haven't registered it as a prime producer, which could be one of the reasons Al-Benyan is striking up agreements in the U.S. Nevertheless, the oil giant is continuing to look at oil and gas development from shale in the Gulf, starting a small pilot project that could result in huge finds.