Keeping Oil Capacity is “Challenging”

From Emirates 24/7

State-run Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producing firm, is also operating the world’s largest system for water flow into its massive oilfields to maintain their production capacity. But the company says such a system is beset with challenges.

For Saudi Aramco, keeping the nation’s oil fields in optimal condition is not simply an option — it’s a must, Aramco said in its latest bulletin, Dimensions.

Part of this responsibility falls on the shoulders of the company’s Sea Water Injection Department (SWID), which operates the world’s largest seawater injection system. “Water injection for oil fields is critical,” said Mohammed Sowayigh, SWID manager.

“Without water injection, oil production levels cannot be maintained and could be significantly impacted and drop. It’s a necessity,” he added.

Although oil production would not immediately stop without water injection, the health of the oil field would be severely affected, causing a decline in the oil it produces over time. Injected seawater replaces the oil that is extracted from the reservoir.

This offsets the pressure decrease in the field that is caused by oil production, the bulletin said, adding that it is this decrease in field pressure that affects how much oil the reservoir can produce.

The hub and center piece of the seawater injection system is the Qurayyah Sea Water Plant (QSWP), it noted. Inaugurated in 1978, the plant is capable of treating 14 million barrels per day (MMBPD) of seawater.

“That’s equivalent to more than 800 Olympic-size swimming pools, making it the largest plant of its kind in the world,” said Aramco, which has pumped oil for over 70 years.

The complex process of injecting seawater begins when raw seawater from the Arabian Gulf is drawn through an enclosed lagoon and funneled to QSWP.

At this point, the drawn seawater is screened and chlorinated and lifted into two massive open concrete channels, known as Above Grade Canals (AGCs). The AGCs then serve as supply reservoirs for 28 treatment modules.

The modules contain sand filtration media that further separates the water from the solids and a system to remove the oxygen from the water. Six giant cross country pipelines then send this treated water to injection plants in ‘Uthmaniyah, Ain Dar, Shedgum, Khurais, Hawiyah and Haradh.

“The whole operation consists of different parts,” said Sowayigh. “The water from Qurayyah is shipped through a piping network to intermediate stations in ‘Uthmaniyah and Ain Dar. From there, it goes to water injection plants, and then its pressure is boosted and distributed to injection wells along the flanks of Ghawar and Khurais fields.”


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