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Taking head-on the supply challenge.

(Image: SA-jumah.jpg )

NOT long ago, Saudi Aramco president and CEO Abdallah S Jumah issued a challenge to the wider oil industry: Find enough new resources to add 1 trillion barrels to world reserves over the next 25 years.

That challenge began at home. Saudi Aramco is leading the strategic development charge to help ensure reliable energy supplies far into the future. The company is continuously seeking new oil resources, as well as expanding production through efforts including the two largest single increments in its history (Khurais and Manifa), and expertly managing its existing portfolio of some 100 fields to maximise recovery. And as the world's oil supplies become more challenging to produce, Saudi Aramco is taking the lead in developing technologies to produce conventional oil reserves more efficiently. This 10-year, kingdom-wide capital programme includes an exploration strategy that aims to replace reserves to match Saudi Aramco's annual crude oil production and add at least 5 trillion standard cubic feet (tscf) of non-associated gas reserves per year. The programme includes drilling and seismic activities to generate prospects and improve imaging in support of finding both oil and non-associated gas, Saudi Aramco says in its 2007 review titled Cornerstones. Some of the capacity added by these major crude oil increments will offset natural decline, and the remainder will expand Saudi Aramco's maximum sustained production capacity, which by the end of 2009 will reach 12 million barrels per day (mbpd). These efforts to discover new resources and add to reserves for years to come are just one reason Saudi Aramco is the world's cornerstone for crude oil. Success stories for 2007 included two new oil discoveries, both located in the Eastern Province southeast of Ghawar, the world's largest onshore oil field. The first, Mabruk, struck on April 26, is the first discovery in the Hadriyah reservoir south of Ghawar, the review says. The Mabruk-1 well flowed 5,600 bpd of Arabian Heavy oil with 2 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd) of gas. Under normal production conditions, the well is expected to flow at a higher rate. The following day, on April 27, the Dirwazah field was discovered in the Unayzah reservoir. The Dirwazah-1 well flowed 5,569 bpd of Arabian Light oil with 2.8 million scfd of gas. Saudi Aramco's mega-project slate is geared to ramp up production in response to the growing global need for energy. Collectively, these strategic increments alone will match the daily oil production of some oil exporting countries. Saudi Aramco's ambitious capital programme achieved many milestones during 2007 toward construction of crude oil increments. Since 2001 through the scheduled completion of Manifa in 2011, Saudi Aramco will have built more than 4 mbpd of oil production capacity and 3.3 billion scfd of new gas-plant output. Mega-projects, generally defined as programmes exceeding $1 billion in value, are not big news just for their size or cost. Their impact also is huge. Saudi Aramco's major crude increments will add the following amounts to Saudi Aramco's oil output capacity: Khurais, 1.2 mbpd; Manifa, 900,000 bpd; Khursaniyah, 500,000 bpd; and Shaybah, 250,000 bpd. While Nuayyim does not qualify as "mega," at 100,000 bpd, it will add significantly to Saudi Aramco's production capacity. An unprecedented number major of crude oil increments were in progress during the year: Khursaniyah started pumping oil, and Shaybah, Khurais, Nuayyim and Manifa are under construction. To put the grand scale of this expansion programme in perspective, consider that the collective capacity these increments represent is equivalent to the daily oil production of some exporting countries. The Khursaniyah Oil Production Facilities project neared completion at the end of 2007, with facilities slated to come on-stream in 2008. The plant has the capacity to process and stabilise 500,000 bpd of Arabian Light crude. All gathering and distribution pipelines, and communication and industrial support facilities were commissioned in 2007. The integrated Khursaniyah Gas Plant (KGP) designed to process the associated gas will be commissioned with a first-time distinction: a 100-per cent Saudi workforce, the review says. The Khurais programme, the largest integrated project in company history and the largest industrial project in the world, is on track for facilities completion in 2009. Khursaniyah is an important link in a chain of facilities that includes earlier projects such as Hawiyah, Haradh and Qatif, and will be connected to later projects, such as Khurais and Manifa oil projects, the Karan offshore gas project and others yet to come. Located northwest of Jubail, the sprawling Khursaniyah complex will be an integrated facility, with oil- and gas-producing facilities sharing one site, and control and utilities within one perimeter fence. This important increment in Saudi Aramco's capital programme to boost petroleum output in response to increasing international energy demand will be supported by 154 oil and water wells; more than 500 km of major gas, oil and water pipelines to and from plants; approximately 250 km of flow lines; and 300 km of 13.8 kilovolt power lines. Khursaniyah also reflects Saudi Aramco's attainment of new levels of sophistication in project execution and economies of scale unimaginable just a few years ago. The latest technologies available have been implemented wherever feasible to increase efficiency and enhance the plants' operational safety and reliability. All wellsites will be provided with state-of-the-art Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (Scada) systems tied into the flow lines. The latest technologies for wellhead monitoring, control and data processing have been adopted to further ensure full utilisation of Intelligent-Field technology in line with the company trend. Additionally, five water-injection and disposal trunk lines, three oil trunk lines and four upstream gas pipelines are being constructed with a combined length of 540 km. Hydrocarbon pipelines have more than 40 safety isolation valves with remote control units linked to the company's Oil Supply Planning and Scheduling (OSPAS) nerve center in Dhahran, the review says. The raising Khursaniyah programme will increase production capacity of Arabian Light crude by 1.2 mbpd through a new Central Processing Facility, the largest of its kind in Saudi Arabia. The Manifa oil field programme will be developed with onshore and offshore wells using electric submersible pumps to produce 900,000 bpd of Arabian Heavy crude oil starting in the third quarter of 2011. Field development will require construction of 41 km of causeway and a three-km bridge to support 27 drilling islands for the shallow water wells, plus 11 offshore platforms for deeper water-producing and water-injection wells. Onshore facilities will include nine onshore drill sites, a Central Oil and Gas Processing Facility, water supply wells and injection facilities, and multiple gathering, water-injection, and product distribution pipelines. The drilling islands, to be finished in November 2009, are rapidly being constructed using some of the largest dredgers in the world. Platform fabrication has started, with installation to begin in 2008. Major installations of the Shaybah Crude Oil Expansion programme include a gas-oil separation plant (GOSP), and gas compression and injection facilities. The plant layout also provides for future expansions. The scope includes a new 30-inch diameter, 211 km pipeline. The engineering phase is complete and construction has started. Four major partial mechanical completions for the overhead transmission line, one of the two residential buildings and telecommunications for residential buildings have been achieved. When the facilities are complete in December 2008, Shaybah field production capacity of Arabian Extra Light oil will increase from 500,000 bpd to 750,000 bpd. The year also was highlighted by a number of technological innovations. One message Saudi Aramco emphasised in 2007 was an assurance of abundant petroleum resources for years to come. This good news was confirmed in a discovery by the Ghawar Integrated Assessment and New Technology (Giant) team: passages in the matrix of carbonate rock, where a significant percentage of unrecovered oil residues. The discovery indicates that worldwide, there's about twice as much oil left in the ground following production of a field as was obtained during production. Understanding the newly discovered carbonate micro-pore system behavior has great potential for fully optimising existing resources. To tap this resource, Saudi Aramco has developed new rock-typing methodology, new saturation height modelling and new up-scaling techniques. A new in-house three-dimension tool, "3DWellview," was developed to efficiently perform field data quality checks. Thirteen fields totaling more than 4,700 wells were quality checked using the new system. In addition, the tool provides functionality to visualise planned well locations, detect potential wellbore collisions, and monitor realtime drilling progress, the review says. Saudi Aramco also continued developing its next-generation reservoir simulator, which will use up to 1 billion computing cells (1 gigabyte) to model the kingdom's giant oil and gas reservoirs with improved accuracy. The simulator will use unstructured grids for expressing complicated geology, faults, fractures and complex wells. The simulator targets oil, gas, condensate and enhanced oil recovery processes with high-resolution grids. The new simulator will integrate high-end virtual reality technology with speech-driven features. A new giga-cell visualisation room will be built for analysing simulation results. Saudi Aramco has introduced a Stage Frac completion technique that improves well productivity. Applications of this technology target heterogeneous carbonate intervals in horizontal hole sections that are difficult to stimulate efficiently. The result is a significantly improved stimulation of the individual zones. In addition, laterals from the same well may potentially be eliminated through effective fractionating techniques. Time and cost savings exceed conventional stimulation. Production test data indicate up to a three-fold increase in production rates over carbonate oil wells that are completed open hole and stimulated conventionally. Saudi Aramco set a world record for the maximum distance between wells for a cross-well electromagnetic project. The test, conducted in the Haradh field, covered a distance of 860 metres and monitored the movement of injected water flood-front and mapped the fluid distribution of the reservoir. Saudi Aramco established the Drilling Real-Time Operations Center (RTOC), a state-of-the-art command and control center to monitor drilling operations from spud to total depth. Real-time technologies are being used 24-7 to optimise drilling operations, minimise borehole problems and improve safety. Real-time data can be transmitted from any Saudi Aramco rig site using a variety of transmission formats and accessed from a variety of internal locations to monitor and evaluate drilling events. The centre was fully operational by fourth-quarter 2007, and equipped with the latest hardware and software technologies to provide a collaborative workspace for multi-disciplinary specialists.

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Publication:Oil & Gas News
Date:Sep 22, 2008
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