Saudi Aramco Takes a "Smart" Approach
- Abdelghani Henni (JPT Middle East Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 2015
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 70 - 71
- 2015. Copyright is held partially by SPE. Contact SPE for permission to use material from this document.
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Saudi Aramco’s upstream strategy aims to implement the intelligent field concept in all of its upstream operations by 2016–2017 so it can better understand reservoirs and improve efficiency.
Going by the names of intelligent oil field, smart oil field, and digital oil field, the concept is an array of interactive and complementary technologies that enable companies to gather and analyze data throughout the job site. Intelligent wells provide constant data through fiber-optic sensors in the drilling apparatus about the well and its environment, which enables operators to respond to changing circumstances in real time. The intelligent field is where operators, partners, and service companies seek to take advantage of improved data and knowledge management, enhanced analytical real-time systems, and more efficient business models.
In the Middle East, Saudi Aramco currently has 19 intelligent fields in operation, which enables the company to monitor reservoirs and intervene immediately in case of any damage because of the real-time monitoring system.
Saudi Aramco’s first use of intelligent fields started with its Haradh III Increment project, which included multilateral wells, all equipped with smart completions and real-time data. Haradh I was developed exclusively with vertical wells, whereas horizontal completions provided the primary configuration for producers/injectors in Haradh II. Haradh III was developed by relying mainly on smart maximum reservoir contact (MRC) completions within an intelligent field framework. Total Haradh production capacity is 900,000 B/D, with equal contributions from the three respective subsegments of I, II, and III.
The Haradh III development at the southern tip of the Ghawar oil field, completed in 2006, has been portrayed by Saudi Aramco as the turning point in the battle between geological adversity and engineering prowess. The poorest reservoir rock in Ghawar has succumbed to the latest in well and drilling technology. Aided by 3D seismic images showing fracture locations, wellsites were optimized and drills were guided by remote control from Dhahran.
MRCs were fitted with monitoring electronics and valves on individual laterals so they could be throttled back as needed to minimize water encroachment. Testing was done, adjustments were made as needed, and everything rolled out ahead of schedule. Goals for individual well productivity of 10,000 B/D were met, and projections indicated a smooth sailing for 10 years or more.
Haradh III became the first Saudi Aramco development project to be developed exclusively with MRC wells with downhole inflow control valves for flow control. Average well production rates were targeted at 10,000 B/D, compared with 3,000 B/D and 6,000 B/D for Haradh I and II, respectively. Smart completions were necessary to ensure production sustainability in the face of premature water encroachment through fault/fracture systems. Saudi Aramco said that the well requirements and relative unit costs would have been considerably higher had vertical or conventional single-horizontal wells been selected instead of MRC wells for Haradh III.
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