Upstream technology

We intend to go beyond leading in size and scale to achieving excellence in every aspect of our upstream operations. This means innovating and applying leading‐edge technologies in exploration and reservoir management to discover new fields and increase recovery in our producing fields.

Every percentage increase in recovery rates adds millions of barrels of recoverable oil to our reserves base. Every gain in operating efficiency expands our ability to provide more energy at lower cost. More reserves and longer-lived production mean more energy for opportunities, in Saudi Arabia and for our customers around the globe.

Injecting CO2 into reservoirs for enhanced oil recovery and sequestration could potentially boost recovery rates and reduce emissions. In a large-scale demonstration project scheduled for 2015, we will use CO2 in injection wells in the ‘Uthmaniyah area. Conducting the demonstration in a mature area of the reservoir promises to enhance our knowledge of CO2 enhanced oil recovery methods.

The use of surfactant/polymer formulations in injected water can help recover tertiary oil (oil not produced under natural reservoir pressure or through water injection) more efficiently. We have conducted extensive studies to finalize surfactant/polymer formulations and designed a pilot program.

SmartWater Flooding has the potential to optimize water properties in our carbonate reservoirs to increase recovery. In 2014, a SmartWater Flood demonstration project at North 'Uthmaniyah resulted in a successful comprehensive formation evaluation at the first observation well of the field pilot.

A next-generation drilling microchip may present a low-cost and low-risk downhole data acquisition system that will help optimize drilling operations. We are investigating the manufacture of thousands of these microchips for deployment in the field.

In-situ exothermic chemical reactions could be used to generate pressure pulses sufficient to create fractures around wellbores, enhancing fracture propagation. Lab-scale experiments were successful in proving this new method of fracture initiation and will be applied in unconventional formations in 2015.

Intelligent nano-agents, 1/1000 the size of a human hair, are designed to be injected into the reservoir for sensing or intervention. In 2014, we injected passive building block nano-agents (A-Dots), along with a small-molecule fluorescent tracer, into a well, . A-Dots were detected at two neighboring producing wells nearly 500 meters from the injection point.

Magnetic nano-mappers are magnetic nano-agents that could be used to map the movements of injected fluids inside hydrocarbon reservoirs. A shallow well array was designed, modeled, and planned in 2014 and drilling and initial field testing are expected to commence in 2015.

A new class of chemicals is being investigated to reduce the viscosity of heavy oil with the potential to increase recovery compared to water injection alone.

The front-end engineering and design of cable-deployed electric submersible pumps was completed, with field prototype design, manufacturing, and testing slated for 2015. These pumps are used to boost production rates in offshore fields such as Safaniya.