OTC: Saudi Arabia's Khurais field to start in June

The giant Khurais oil and gas field in Saudi Arabia is on schedule to start production by the end of June, according to Amin H. Nasser, Saudi Aramco senior vice-president, exploration and production.

Uchenna Izundu
OGJ International Editor

HOUSTON, May 4 -- The giant Khurais oil and gas field in Saudi Arabia is on schedule to start production by the end of June, according to Amin H. Nasser, Saudi Aramco senior vice-president, exploration and production. The $10 billion project will come on earlier than expected as it was originally slated for completion by yearend.

Khurais is about 90 miles east of Riyadh. The field will produce 1.2 million b/d and is the largest increment delivered in the world, Nasser said. "We have increased capacity by 20% by bringing on major increments onstream between 2004-09." By yearend, Aramco will have 12 million b/d of production capacity after it has completed all of its major development projects. Khurais, in addition to the 1.2 million b/d, is expected to produce 420 MMcfd of natural gas and 70,000 b/d of condensate (OGJ, May 8, 2006, p. 19).

The project has been a chellenging one because during the boom period when oil prices were soaring, there was a shortage of labor and materials. Now, however, the field will start production in a very different market with oil prices in the $50/bbl range and shrinking demand because of the global recession.

Saudi officials have said Khurais, with at least 12 billion bbl of recoverable oil, is only 1.8% depleted (OGJ, Apr. 5, 2004, p. 18). This the country's second-largest oil field and requires 310 wells to deliver the production. The drilling program was expected to take 3 years, but was finished 10 months ahead of schedule on Feb. 10 due to improvements in engineering and operations. It will typically use single horizontal lateral wells, with a 1.5-2 km open-hole section, equipped with inflow control devices for water production management. Smart electrical submersible pumps also will be installed.

Aramco originally planned to use 16 rigs run by three divisions over 3 years, but this was changed to 12 rigs in two divisions over a 2-year schedule. Drilling days were cut from 40 days to 25 days because of strong communication between the company and its contractors and working alongside each other in the same office.

In November 2008, Aramco inaugurated its central processing facility water injection plant (WIP), which uses combustion gas turbines. This allows 620,000 b/d of seawater injection and more pressure.

The seawater journey starts at the new treatment modules at Qurayyah seawater plant and flows to Ain Dar WIP in a 56-in. quad pipeline. Booster pumps increase the pressure at Ain Dar WIP, forcing water to flow to Khurais in the 60-in. Ain Dar Khurais-1 pipeline. The Khurais project will use five WIP trains that will inject 2.1 million b/d of treated seawater into Khurais, Abu Jifan, and Mazalij fields to maintain reservoir pressure.

Discovered 65 miles west of supergiant Ghawar field in 1957, Khurais began production in 1970 and had yielded 111 million bbl by mid-1979, when output averaged 33,000 b/d. It was later shut in and the project to restart it began in 2005.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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