Saudis To Deploy New Technology To Boost World’s Largest Oilfield

September 29, 2010
Saudi Arabia is planning to deploy new technology to extract more crude from the world’s largest oilfield that pumps more than double the combined output of the UAE and Kuwait, its state hydrocarbon operator has said.
Stretching over an area that exceeds that of entire Lebanon, Ghawar oilfield still pumps more than five million barrels per day (bpd) of crude nearly 60 years after it began spewing oil from beneath the most barren desert in the world.
Travelling by car at 100 kilometres per hour, visitors need at least six hours to finish a trip around the oilfield in the eastern province, the hub of the country’s oil industry and home to more than 20 per cent of the world’s crude resources.
The field now pumps more than 60 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s crude production, six per cent of the world’s oil supplies and over 15 per cent of Opec’s output.
Located in the eastern part of the Empty Quarter desert along the western Gulf coast, Ghawar pumps nearly five million bpd of the top quality light crude and around 2.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.
The field’s production reached a peak of about 5.7 million bpd by 1981 — a world record for continuous production in a single field — but output was reduced later that decade due to declining global demand. Still, the field’s current, sustained five million bpd output is unrivalled.
“Since its discovery during 1940s, enormous Ghawar has kept oil experts on their toes. In mid-2007, the Ghawar Integrated Assessment and New Technology (GIANT) team, an interdepartmental group working on a long-term, visionary endeavor to better understand and characterize the oil field, came across an interesting finding while looking at ways to maximize the reservoir’s oil recovery percentage,” said Saudi Aramco, which controls the Kingdom’s hydrocarbon sector and is the largest oil producing firm on earth.
“The researchers found an extensive micro-pore system of hidden passages in carbonate rock, where a significant percentage of unrecovered oil resides. Today, the GIANT team is analysing this newfound potential and finding ways to tap into the as-yet untapped world below.”
In a study published in its quarterly bulletin Dimensions, Saudi Aramco said Ghawar is divided into five areas, discovered individually: ’Ain Dar (1948), Haradh (1949 — located in the southernmost part of the field), ‘Uthmaniyah (1951), Shedgum (1952) and Hawiyah (1953).
The giant reservoir is around 280 kilometers long and 40 kilometres wide, encompassing nearly 11,200 square kilometers.
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