A breakthrough field application developed by Saudi Aramco scientists, researchers and engineers will help preserve the Kingdom’s precious groundwater reserves during water intensive hydraulic and acid fracturing jobs.
Hydraulic and acid fracturing treatments involve the use of relatively large volumes of groundwater. The fracturing fluid incompatibility and flow assurance issues of seawater has prevented Aramco from using it as an alternative to fresh, low so-called toal dissolved solids (TDS) groundwater currently being used in hydraulic fracturing operations.
A major challenge of using raw seawater instead is maintaining a viscosity comparable to the one generated from fresh water-based fracturing fluids. This viscosity is important to create the fracture and carry the proppant particles that keep the fracture open.
Aramco research teams have now designed the company’s first raw seawater-based acid fracturing treatment, utilizing the in-house developed seawater-based fluid. Results of this research and the first field application concluded that seawater is a reliable and compatible alternative.
The challenges were resolved through extensive research studies and recently the first acid fracturing job was successfully carried out with fully functional in-house developed seawater-based fracturing fluid.
Besides pursuing innovative and cost-effective solutions to operational and environmental challenges the improvements are well aligned with the company’s water conservation policy.
Saudi Aramco’s expertise in geophysics was recently on full display at the 2015 Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) International Exposition and 85th Annual Meeting, sharing new technological advances, techniques, and approaches in seismic monitoring and other notable topics in geophysics.
Hosting more than 1,000 total presentations, SEG featured its largest technical program ever over the course of five days in New Orleans.
Technologists gave more than 20 technical presentations during the conference, with contributions representing developments from Saudi Aramco’s Exploration and EXPEC ARC organizations, as well as Aramco Services Company’s Upstream and Research and Development Departments.
“Saudi Aramco’s involvement is critical in driving the success of this event, and we know the tremendous value they bring to our technical session — which is usually how great conferences are measured,” newly-appointed SEG executive director Dorsey Morrow said.
Collaboration among Aramco’s global research and development network continues to grow, as evidenced by the work of the Geophysics Technology Team of the Aramco Research Center-Houston, which presented an impressive number of seven technical papers during the conference.
Contracts signed with engineering, procurement, and construction firms to build the new plant north of Jubail, Eastern Province.
Saudi Aramco has reached another major milestone in its journey toward supplying the Kingdom with clean-burning natural gas for its energy needs to lessen its dependence on liquid fuels such as crude oil.
When completed, Fadhili Gas Plant will become a key component of the Kingdom’s Master Gas System, which will meet growing domestic demand for energy by expanding from its current 9.3 billion standard cubic feet per day (scfd) of sales gas in 2015 to 12.2 billion SCFD by 2021.
The signing ceremony of last week covered three separate packages:
- Inlet and Gas Treatment to be built by the Spanish firm Tecnicas Reunidas
- Process Utilities to be built by Tecnicas Reunidas
- Sulfur Recovery Units to be built by Petrofac International Ltd. (UAE).
The plant will process 2 billion scfd of Hasbah nonassociated gas and 500 million SCFD of Khursaniyah onshore nonassociated gas. It is expected to produce 1.5 billion SCFD (1,080 BTU/scf) of sales gas, 4,000 metric tons per day of sulfur, and 470 million scfd of gas to fuel an adjacent cogeneration plant, which will provide the plant power and steam requirements and to export about 1,100 megawatts of power.
The Fadhili Gas System will be unique in several aspects:
- Treatment system optimized to feed the Khursaniyah gas directly to the adjacent third-party cogeneration plant. This is in addition to the fact that the adjacent cogen power plant will be developed simultaneously and executed through a special purpose joint venture with a third-party developer as well as SEC.
- Environmentally, it is being designed with the maximum sulfur recovery of 99.9% utilizing the Tail Gas Treatment process.
- Using Power Recovery Hydraulic Turbine technology in place of conventional control valves to capture the significant pressure drop in the gas processing trains to generate energy.
Together, our Wasit, Midyan, and Fadhili gas plants will add more than 5 billion scfd of nonassociated gas processing capacity. This will enable opportunities in Saudi industries such as steel, aluminum, and petrochemicals, water desalination plants, electricity production, and downstream value-added industries to produce anti-freeze, solvents, fuels, and other advanced materials.
Saudi Aramco’s flagship publication, AramcoWorld, was honored recently in New York City with 10 magazine-industry awards.
This is the highest number of awards ever received by AramcoWorld from the international competition sponsored by Folio: magazine, which this year attracted more than 3,000 entries in 150 categories of editorial excellence and 90 categories of design excellence.
Each category is based on magazine type, mission and circulation size, and each entry is evaluated by three to five industry peer judges. AramcoWorld was commended for editorial excellence of its digital edition, its six-part series ”Travelers of Al-Andalus” and its videos “The Hazelnuts of Trabzon” and “The Cave Artists of Sulawesi.”
The magazine received laurels in overall design excellence and in two categories for outstanding digital design. The cover of the September/October 2014 issue was commended, as were the illustrations in the series “Travelers of Al-Andalus” and photography in the feature, “The Hazelnuts of Trabzon.”
“The broad spread of awards highlights strength from every member of our editorial team,” said Richard Doughty, editor. “The long tradition of the magazine’s excellence inspires everyone— challenging us to take quality further every day and explore new platforms for delivery.”
Public Affairs in Aramco’s Houston office produces the bimonthly print and online magazine, which seeks to broaden knowledge of the culture, history and geography of the Arab and Islamic worlds.
Earlier this year, AramcoWorld opened its Instagram feed, @aramcoworld. “Of all the social media out there, Instagram is almost ideal for AramcoWorld,” says Doughty. “We have six decades of archival photos to draw from as well as photographers right now producing beautiful, storytelling images. Even though a single picture and a caption might seem small compared to what we do in print, it’s actually a powerfully memorable combination, and it fits today’s digital reading habits.”
Saudi Aramco showcases its integrated downstream technology strategy and portfolio at the 10th annual Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) forum, taking place in Dubai, UAE from November 17 – 19.
The Annual Forum, GPCA’s flagship event, is the leading networking event for the petrochemicals and chemicals industry in the Arabian Gulf region. During the three day forum, delegates from some of the world’s biggest petrochemicals and chemical producers, share their perspectives on current industry issues. Since the first meeting in 2006, GPCA annual forum attendance has grown steadily year after year along with the reputation of the event in the global chemical industry.
Warren Wilder, VP Chemicals, Saudi Aramco said: “GPCA is a great focal point for our regional industry. In challenging economic times, our industry must work even harder to unlock its growth potential. Across the region and beyond, we now need to embed the collaboration and partnerships necessary for diversification into high-value manufacturing sectors that will sow the seeds of our long-term success.”
Saudi Aramco’s Integrated Energy Strategy
With a global refining capacity of 5.4million bpd, Saudi Aramco has diversified its portfolio to become an efficient, integrated global energy and chemicals company operating across the entire petroleum and chemicals value-chain.
Saudi Aramco’s global footprint in chemicals is well established, having adopted an international partnership and joint venture approach to help build a portfolio that encompasses crude supply, refining, petrochemicals and lubes, right through to closely-linked marketing and distribution channels, backed by world-class technology and innovation.
In addition, Saudi Aramco’s downstream strategy is about the conversion of petrochemical commodities and consequently spurring growth in new industries to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification and competitiveness. Localization of Saudi Arabia’s energy sector will enhance the Kingdom’s overall competitiveness, helping accelerate industrial growth across many industry sectors and creating thousands of new high-skill, high-value manufacturing jobs for the Kingdom’s growing population.
Rapidly Expanding Global Footprint
Saudi Aramco’s world-class, integrated chemicals complex projects are changing the landscape of the global petrochemicals industry.
In 2011 Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemicals established the Sadara Chemical Company. At Jubail Industrial City in Saudi Arabia, Sadara is constructing the world’s largest chemical complex ever built in a single phase, with 26 integrated world-scale manufacturing plants that will produce more than three million tons of products every year. At a total investment of about US$20 billion, Sadara is on schedule for initial start-up by the end of 2015 and will be the first chemical complex in the GCC region to use naphtha as part of its feedstock, leading to new specialty chemicals plants and new businesses in the Kingdom.
In August 2014, the crude oil throughput of the Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Company (SATORP), a joint venture refinery with Total located in Jubail on the east coast of Saudi Arabia, reached the facility’s full design capacity of 400,000 barrels per day. The refinery has a comprehensive array of advanced mild, distillate and fluid catalytic cracker technology to convert heavy crude oil that is especially hard to process into high-value-added low-sulfur gasoline, diesel and jet fuel products, as well as an annual production of 1 million tons of paraxylene, benzene and high-purity propylene.
A joint venture with Asia’s largest refiner, Sinopec, YASREF is a 400,000 barrels per day refinery designed to process Arabian heavy crude oil to produce premium transportation fuels such as gasoline and ultra-low-sulfur diesel, as well as liquefied petroleum gases, benzene, sulfur and petroleum coke. YASREF delivered its first shipment of clean diesel fuel in mid-January 2015.
Work is well under-way on Phase II of the Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Company (Petro Rabigh) complex expansion, with Sumitomo Chemical Company of Japan. This expansion will add specialty ethylene and propylene-based products by de-bottlenecking the existing steam cracker. The project will also enable conversion of 4,000 kilotons per year of naphtha into higher value aromatic products.
In addition, Saudi Aramco’s Fujian Refinery and Petrochemical Company joint venture in China – with ExxonMobil, Sinopec and the Fujian provincial government – successfully processes Saudi Arabian sour crude oil and produces high quality polymer products which are marketed in China by a Saudi Aramco affiliate. Meanwhile Saudi Aramco’s stake in S-Oil’s integrated refinery and petrochemical complex, South Korea’s third largest, has strengthened the company’s foothold in Asia.
The recently announced joint venture between Saudi Aramco and the German specialty chemicals company, Lanxess, which is expected to close in the first half of 2016, is seen by Saudi Aramco as a milestone in its pioneering journey to further extend its globally-integrated downstream expansion. Lanxess has a world-class synthetic rubber and elastomer products capability and many of the world’s largest tire and automotive-parts manufacturers are already counted as customers.
The JV has a compelling industrial logic for both parties, and Saudi Aramco expects to provide the new JV entity with financial stability, additional scale and resources, continued investment in technology, unrivalled opportunities to integrate with petrochemical facilities, and potential cost-competitive access to reliable feedstock supplies.
Interestingly, the Lanxess green tires technology which reduces fuel consumption will complement Saudi Aramco’s two-pronged fuel / engine R&D strategy that is focused on increasing the mileage efficiency of vehicles, and reducing pollutant emissions of future engines.