Saudi Aramco finds fields, focuses on rigless technologies

June 8, 2016

Saudi Aramco made five new oil and gas field discoveries, including one offshore field, and continued its exploration in the Red Sea in 2015.

The Kingdom now has a total 134 discovered oil and gas fields. One of the latest was the Faskar offshore field, in the Arabian Gulf, near the Berri field. 

The new discoveries and reserves maintained Saudi Aramco’s crude oil reserves at 261.1 billion barrels. Total gas reserves rose to 297.6 Tcf, the firm says. 

In the Red Sea, Saudi Aramco continued to explore in shallow waters, completing its largest single survey of the seabed, covering encompassing Saudi Arabian territorial waters. 

Last year also saw Saudi Aramco perform its largest offshore tie-in platform, at 6000-ton, at Safaniyah, using a float-over method. 

The platform serves as the main crude oil gathering and power supply hub for North Safaniyah and is powered through a 46km, 230vK submarine cable, which Saudi Aramco says it the longest of its kind in the world installed as a single piece without a field splice.

Wasit Gas Plant, fed with non-associated gas from offshore fields, came onstream in October. The plant is due to reach 2.5 billion scf/d and will have capacity to produce a maximum of 1.7 billion scf/d of sales gas and fractionate 240,000 b/d of NGL. 

Technology development

Saudi Aramco has been focusing on moves to reduce the use of rigs offshore. It replaced downhole gauges retrieveable by wireline in its offshore Marjan, Safaniyah and Zuluf fields and is looking at where else it can do similar operations. 

The firm also completed a field prototype of a new cable-deployed electric submersible pump, which can be deployed and retrieved in one day — independently of a workover rig — significantly lowering costs for this process. The firm is also developing a reliable high-speed electric submersible pump for slim hole completions, with the potential to further boost operating efficiencies. 

The firm has also continued its focus on computational technology, increasing the computing capability at its Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center Computer Center by 177% for reservoir simulations and by 76% in seismic capacity.  

The upgrades help it to perform significantly larger reservoir simulations and reduce data processing times by a factor of 10. As an example, the firm's GigaPOWERS simulator successfully tested a 1.2 billion cell model, one of the largest real field simulation models in the industry, says Saudi Aramco. 

Onshore, the firm has been trailing smart water and CO2 sequestration and EOR on its giant Ghawar field. 

Saudi Aramco also opened a Beijing Research Center with 42 staff by the end of the year. The Center conducts research on chemical enhanced oil recovery and advanced seismic imaging technologies, including automated fault detection and improvements in data quality through super resolution. 

Image from Saudi Aramco.

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