This paper presents the application of a Multiple Attribute Decision Making (MADM) method based on the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), a technique developed by Saaty, T.L. (1980, 2008), to improve definition of field development projects at early stages, when facing the challenge of selecting the best development option from multiple alternatives.

In order to rank efficiently various alternatives of development we apply AHP to technical quantitative or qualitative criteria, like EOR options, well types options, facilities options, transport options, operability and reliability, subsurface conditions, as well as economical quantitative parameters, such as Life Cycle Costing (LCC).

The AHP methodology supports decision-making using pairwise comparison of two or more criteria previously established by experts. For the application of this method, it is necessary to decompose the problem into several steps. In this paper, we show how to apply the method for the selection of a development option for a heavy oil field.

AHP applied to Front End Loading (FEL) staged-gate process increases the probability of success in generation of economic return and mitigation of major capital project risks faced during the early stages of the project. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this method with respect to other more conventional techniques.

The objective of this work is to introduce the use of the AHP methodology for the FEL screening phase with a simple exercise using information taken from the existing literature. At no time is this intended to be a complete guide for FEL applications.

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