Saudi drilling surge like '90s production hike

Bob Tippee
Editor

A surge of activity in Saudi Arabia brings to mind another impressive mobilization the kingdom undertook when the world needed its oil.

The current effort involves the drilling required to push production capacity toward 12 million b/d.

Saudi Aramco recently added the 100th rig to its working fleet, which will grow by yearend to 121. In 2004, the fleet had 55 units.

The drilling is both onshore and offshore, some exploratory (OGJ Online, Apr. 16, 2006).

The 100th rig to join the drilling effort is a refurbished onshore unit, Saudi Aramco Rig 101, which had been out of service since 1999 and partly cannibalized. It was recommissioned at Abqaiq.

Aramco calls its current surge "the most aggressive ramp-up of drilling activity in the history of the oil industry."

Equally impressive was its ramp-up of production after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.

Because of low demand for its crude, Aramco had cut production capacity. Some observers thought the kingdom would never again produce more than 6-6.5 million b/d except in short bursts.

Saudi Arabia was producing 5.5 million b/d when the invasion took 4.6 million b/d of Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil out of the market. By early September Saudi output exceeded 7.5 million b/d. By mid-December it topped 8.5 million b/d.

The increase required more than just opening valves. Early in August, Aramco had 26 gas-oil separation plants (GOSPs) working and 31 old or partly built plants technically "mothballed"—with instruments and rotating equipment in long-term storage and wells and flowlines depressurized and filled with dry crude.

Aramco brought four GOSPs and pumping facilities back on stream by the month after the invasion, seven more in October, four in November, and two in December (OGJ, Dec. 2, 1991, p. 49).

Afterward, the company said its main challenge was finding and reassigning personnel qualified to do the work.

During that period, this writer asked an executive of one of Aramco's former oil-company partners how long Saudi Arabia could produce 8.5 million b/d. His emphatic answer: 6 months, tops.

The kingdom's annual average production hasn't fallen below that level in any year since then.

(Online July 7, 2006; author's e-mail: bobt@ogjonline.com)

Related Articles

Can ersatz meat ease climate heat on fossil energy?

12/12/2014

Human food from animals might represent a stronger lever for climate-change mitigation than was indicated by a study reported here last week.

Study: To cool climate, eat less meat, milk

12/05/2014

Meeting stated goals for Earth’s climate requires not only using pricey energy but also spurning animal protein.

OPEC was destined not to cut output in Vienna meeting

11/26/2014 The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was destined not to cut production to defend the price of crude at its ministerial meeting Nov. 2...

EPA will set RFS requirements for this year next year

11/21/2014

How bad does regulation of the Renewable Fuel Standard have to become before the US Congress ends a program broken beyond repair?

Why rush to okay Keystone XL now? Politics, of course

11/14/2014 From outside the US, a sudden rush to approve the Keystone XL pipeline must be puzzling. Isn’t this the project not acted upon for 6 years and coun...

Saudis have reasons better than shale to let prices fall

11/07/2014 Only by overlooking important forces in markets and politics can anyone assert that Saudi Arabia is letting crude prices fall mainly to extinguish ...

Business mood dark as questions hover over UK offshore

10/31/2014

Falling oil prices, rising costs, and looming political questions darken the business mood about the UK offshore.

Europe hikes stakes in costly quest for climate leadership

10/24/2014 “No player in the world is as ambitious as the [European Union],” declared European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso after the EU extended ...

EPA sets energy booby traps for the US economy

10/17/2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency is setting booby traps for the economy as the last half term of the Obama presidency lumbers into view.

White Papers

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Plant Design for Lean Construction - at your fingertips

One area which can provide improvements to the adoption of Lean principles is the application of mobil...
Sponsored by

How to Keep Your Mud System Vibrator Hose from Getting Hammered to Death

To prevent the vibrating hoses on your oilfield mud circulation systems from failing, you must examine...
Sponsored by

Duty of Care

Good corporate social responsibility means implementing effective workplace health and safety measures...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts


On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


Utilizing Predictive Analytics to Optimize Productivity in Oil & Gas Operations

Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Join IBM on Tuesday, November 18 @ 1pm CST to explore how Predictive Analytics can help your organization maximize productivity, operational performance & associated processes to drive enterprise wide productivity and profitability.

register:WEBCAST


US HYDROCARBON EXPORTS Part 3 — LNG

Fri, Nov 14, 2014

US LNG Exports, the third in a trilogy of webcasts focusing on the broad topic of US Hydrocarbon Exports.

A discussion of the problems and potential for the export of US-produced liquefied natural gas.

These and other topics will be discussed, with the latest thoughts on U.S. LNG export policy.

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected