As part of Saudi Aramco’s mega projects, it is implementing expansion plans at Shaybah field in the Empty Quarter to increase oil production capacity and natural gas liquids (NGL) at an estimated cost of SR186.75 billion. Saudi Aramco's joint projects in the field of refining and petrochemical production are estimated at SR131.25 billion.
The Shaybah field expansion focuses on two major projects. First is oil production increase by 250,000 barrels per day (bpd), for the second time. The expansion will provide the Shaybah field with a capacity of 1 million bpd of Arabian Extra Light crude oil by April, 2016, double its initial capacity in 1998.
Moreover, the Saudi oil company is working to improve the design of wells to increase the average reservoir contact to 10 km, enhancing production from the deep, tight faces of the reservoir.
As for the second project, Saudi Aramco will construct a new NGL plant, to meet the growing demand for petrochemical feedstock through the extraction of high value NGL of the produced gas, which is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2015.
The NGL plant project also includes a major upgrade to increase the power generation capacity to more than 1 GW by installing four cogeneration units, seven single cycle units, and a 50 km transmission line with the ability of 230 kilovolt.
After installing two turbo steam generators by July 2017, the Shaybah total power generation capacity will exceed 1.3 GW.
Aramco uses natural gas as a vital alternative to reduce the Kingdom's dependence on the liquid fuel to generate electricity and to lay the foundation for further development and economic diversification.
On April 2011, Saudi Aramco stated its intentions to expand the Shaybah field after implementing expansion works that included a fourth plant to double production capacity of the Arabian Extra Light crude oil from 500,000 bpd to 750,000 bpd, besides the establishment of a new plant for gas-oil separation.
The Shaybah oil field imposed major challenges during its discovery and development due to the temperatures that soared there to 55° Celsius with heavy dust storms and the shifting sands. Despite the harshness of its climate, the Shaybah field has the best Arabian Extra Light crude oil with a specific gravity of 42 degrees at depth of 4,900 meters.
It includes four plants, and the oil pipeline from the Shaybah field to Abqaiq is 638 km long. The total number of drilled wells reached 255 wells, including 205 horizontal oil wells, 34 vertical oil wells, 8 wells for gas injection, and 5 wells of groundwater.
By Sultan Al Sughair
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