Shaybah oil field can pump 750,000 bpd ‘for 70 years’

Google map showing the location of Shaybah Oil Field in the Eastern Province.

Google map showing the location of Shaybah Oil Field in the Eastern Province.

The Shaybah oil field in the Empty Quarter desert can pump 750,000 barrels per day for the next 70 years because of the innovative management of the site by Saudi Aramco, according to recent reports.

The oil field, 800 kilometers southeast of Dhahran, is one of the most prominent landmarks in the Rub Al-Khali desert and is surrounded by a series of giant, semicircular sand dunes, some of which are 300 meters high.

The field is average in size compared to the giant Ghawar field that pumps millions of barrels a day. However, Shaybah’s management makes it stand out from other fields in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The expertise and hard work of Aramco technicians have paid off in 15.7 billion barrels of initial reserves, according to reports.

The oil field, at the end of 2003, had pumped 1 billion barrels of oil, while the company added 2 billion barrels of reserves.

That means for each barrel of oil pumped out of Shaybah, two more barrels have been discovered, according to reports.

The length of the oil pipeline from Shaybah to Abqaiq is 638 kilometers, while the pipeline within the field itself is 735 kilometers.

There are residential facilities for 1,000 people that can be increased to 2,000, administrative offices, a fire station, recreational areas, maintenance and support workshops, and a tent overlooking the site from the highest place in the location.

The field features all basic facilities such as an airport built where there was once a sand dune.
It also has many services such as maintenance, electricity, and telecommunications. There are compounds for employees, a post office, library, gyms, cafes, and restaurants.

There is 98 percent Saudization in the field and 100 percent in the operating and production department.

Production in 1988 began at less than the budgeted amount and before the deadline date, with 500,000 barrels a day of Arabian Light Crude.

The black gold was discovered in 1968, but its development was delayed for economic and technical reasons. The working teams had faced serious challenges because of the remote location, summer temperatures of over 55 degrees Celsius and its high sand dunes.

However, advances in technology including three-dimensional seismic imaging and horizontal drilling in the nineties provided the field teams with the necessary tools.

The project included removing 30 million cubic meters of quicksand, establishing three plants for gas-oil separation, a 640-kilometer pipeline to transfer crude oil to Abqaiq plants, an airport capable of handling a Boeing 737, residential and industrial facilities, in addition to constructing a 400-kilometer road across the desert.

Shaybah’s production led to an increase in Arabian Light Crude from 500,000 to 750,000 barrels a day. It also led to the expansion of gas compression, injection and power generation facilities.

Multiple-stage pumps tested in 2011 in the Hardh and Shaybah fields were able to re-energize marginal wells and draw an additional 8,000 barrels per day.

In 2011, Shaybah won the Gulf Cooperation Council’s environmental excellence award for the “best industrial enterprise’s commitment to environmental standards and regulations.”

The teams at Shaybah excelled in extinguishing fires, recycling waste, controlling emissions and protecting wildlife. The award highlighted the company’s commitment to the use of top technologies and raising environmental awareness in the community.

 

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