Saudis primed for exploration push


Saudi Arabia is "quadrupling" exploration activities to boost its oil reserves by 25% by 2025, a Saudi Aramco official said today.

Aramco has 260 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and a sustainable production capacity of 10.8 million barrels per day, the company's production and facility development manager Mohammed al-Qahtani said.

"The 260 billion barrels represents 36% of discovered oil resources, this is the so called oil initially in place. We have 716 billion barrels of discovered resources. We produced 106 billion barrels so far, that is 15%, and 36 percent is our proven reserves," he told an Arab energy conference.

"We are estimating that by 2025 we will increase total discovered resources up to more than 900 billion barrels," he told the conference in Jordan.

"The role of exploration is to increase the size of the pie and the role of development is to take more out of the pie."

Saudi Arabia, Opec's largest producer, has fast tracked plans to boost oil production capacity to 12.5 million bpd by 2009 to help meet growing global demand for oil.

The Gulf state's output capacity now stands at 11. 3 million bpd and it has been producing around 9.5 million bpd.

"Over the next five years, we are almost more than quadrupling our exploration activities, keeping the level of exploration for the non-associated gas programme and also heavily increasing our exploration in the crude programme," Qahtani said.

He said Aramco was employing technology to overcome the challenges to exploration in the kingdom which is characterised by a diverse geology, harsh environment and some difficulties in acquiring land seismic data.

Aramco has been using advanced and smart well technology at Abqaiq field, which has been producing since 1948.

"Abqaiq field still produces 400,000 bpd and the water cut is only 40%. We've been able to recover so far 50% of oil initially in place and we estimate in excess of 70% of recovery of oil initially in place with water flooding and without enhanced oil recovery," he said.

"With the help of enhanced oil recovery and other technologies in the future we will be able to increase this to up to 80% and maybe more."

He said the giant Ghawar field, in production for more than 55 years, was producing an average 5 million barrels over the last 10 years with a water cut of 33%.


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