Mega-projects progressing off Saudi Arabia

June 15, 2011
Saudi Aramco has provided an extensive update of its exploration and production programs offshore Saudi Arabia in its 2010 review.

Offshore staff

DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Aramco has provided an extensive update of its exploration and production programs offshore Saudi Arabia in its 2010 review.

In the Red Sea, the company stepped up seismic activity last year in relatively unexplored areas which it claims hold potential for significant reserves.

A second seismic crew was deployed in the region. The transition zone 2D seismic crew that started their program in November 2009 continued acquiring data along the northern Red Sea coast. This will be integrated with existing seismic and well data to improve understanding of the basin’s potential.

Last October, a marine 3D crew began operations in the northern Red Sea, acquiring data over deeper offshore waters.

In the Arabian Gulf, work continued on a 3D marine and transition zone seismic acquisition program to support the Manifa field development, which started in November 2009.

Two additional 3D marine seismic crews started operations in the region – one is acquiring data over the offshore Hasbah field to support a planned 2.5 bcf/d gas increment for the new Wasit gas plant. The other crew is focusing on deeper exploration targets, and this work should also lead to improved seismic imaging and characterization of shallow oil-producing reservoirs.

As for ongoing offshore field developments, Saudi Aramco says it achieved significant progress last year on its Manifa Increment Development in the Arabian Gulf. Manifa is the world’s fifth largest oil field, the company claims, and its production will serve as feedstock for planned refineries throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Manifa will produce in staged increments — 500,000 b/d of Arabian heavy crude by 2013, and 900,000 b/d by 2014.

The field is in shallow and environmentally sensitive waters, and therefore the emphasis is on drilling from onshore sites while minimizing the number of offshore platforms. To protect the environment, cuttings re-injection wells have been drilled from each platform to eliminate the need to transport drill cuttings by barge.

Manifa’s central processing facility will be equipped with gas-oil separation, wet crude handling, crude stabilization, gas gathering and compression, produced water disposal, and water injection. The development calls for construction of 41 km (25 mi) of causeway and 3 km (1.8 mi) of bridges to support 27 drilling islands for the shallow water wells, and 13 offshore platforms for deeper water producing and water injection wells.

Onshore facilities include 15 drill sites, a central oil and gas processing facility, water supply wells and injection facilities, and various gathering, water injection, and product transportation pipelines. This plant will also include all utilities and a 420-MW cogeneration plant.

Elsewhere in the Saudi offshore sector, the first phase of a two-phase program was initiated to upgrade crude-gathering facilities and provide power supply for Central and North Safaniya as part of the Safaniya field Master Development Plan.

The project is intended to sustain Safaniya’s maximum production capacity of Arabian heavy crude. It will provide electrical power to, and upgrade, existing wellhead platforms to accommodate topside electric equipment for electric submersible pumps. A new tie-in platform will be installed, along with a 42-in. (106-cm) trunk line transport crude from this facility to a plant onshore. Completion is expected in late-2013.

Under Saudi Aramco’s offshore Maintain Potential Program (MPP), the focus last year was installation and integration of downhole instrumentation, multi-phase flow meters, and remote terminal units to enable real-time reservoir performance monitoring on 60 offshore production platforms that support the company’s intelligent field initiative.

The Safaniya crude trunk-line system to support the field master plan also was completed. This involved the world’s first 5-km (3.1-mi) shore pull for dual pipelines, employing more precise and less disruptive horizontal directional drilling technology in place of seafloor dredging.

As for offshore gas projects, Aramco is developing three new offshore non-associated gas fields. Karan, the company’s first in the northern area, will be followed by the Hasbah and Arabiyah fields, both northeast of Dhahran.

The company also commissioned the 1 bcf/d Khursaniyah Gas Plant (KGP) and the 3.8 bcf/d Hawiyah NGL recovery plant. KGP will be expanded next year to process non-associated gas from Karan, lifting KGP’s output to 1.8 bcf/d of dry sales gas.

Karan’s non-associated gas field, discovered in 2006, will be produced from 21 increment wells distributed over five offshore wellhead platforms, with the raw gas transported through a 110-km (68-mi) subsea pipeline to KGP.

The Karan project’s engineering and procurement are virtually complete. Drilling of the central platform wells is completed, and initial production of 400 MMcf/d is planned during peak summer demand, starting this year.

Arabiyah and Hasbah will feature seven and six single-well platforms, respectively. Each well is expected to deliver on average 200 MMcf/d, all sent to one tie-in platform per field. The system should delivering up to 1.2 bcf/d of gas from Arabiyah and 1.3 bcf/d from Hasbah to the new Wasit Gas Plant, 8 km (4.9 mi) from KGP, and is part of Saudi Aramco’s strategy to meet in-Kingdom energy demand beyond 2014.

Drilling on Arabiyah was due to start during 1Q 2011 and in current quarter on Hasbah.