How Saudi Aramco Harnesses Technology at Manifa Field Megaproject
- Abdelghani Henni (JPT Middle East Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 54 - 55
- 2014. Copyright is held partially by SPE. Contact SPE for permission to use material from this document.
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Saudi Aramco says its Manifa field is an example of how it is combining its technology and innovation capabilities to develop one of the most challenging megaprojects in the history of the company.
Measuring approximately 45 km in length and 18 km in width, the Manifa field in Saudi Arabia is considered the fifth largest oil field in the world. It was discovered in 1957 with first sustained production in 1964. By 1977, 17 wells had been drilled, mostly offshore. Because of poor demand, the field was mothballed in 1984. But in 2006, a grassroots field redevelopment plan kicked off with major capital spending, and drilling and development started in 2010. The field was successfully put back into production in April 2013, three months ahead of schedule, and the field achieved 500,000 BOPD by July 2013.
By the time the field reaches its full potential at the end of the year, the Manifa field will have the capacity to produce 900,000 BOPD of Arabian heavy crude, 90 MMscf/D of gas, and 65,000 B/D of condensate. The project consists of 42 km of causeways, 3 km of bridges, 27 drilling islands, 13 offshore platforms, 15 onshore drilling islands, water supply wells, injection facilities, multiple pipelines, and a 420-MW heat and electricity plant.
As Saudi Aramco aims to push forward from its traditional role as a buyer and consumer of technology to an enabler and creator of new technologies—its new global technology and R&D strategy—the company has introduced several technologies during the development of Manifa.
The Manifa crude oil increment has been a monumental achievement in the company’s history in terms of production, technology, and manpower, said Shadi Hanbzazah, supervisor at the Manifa production engineering unit. Saudi Aramco combined onshore and offshore development and a causeway in a single project. Water depths are between 4m and 6m. To adequately cover operations in the field, 27 man-made islands were developed and connected by a causeway. “The field development strategy was aimed to transform the field from being 70% offshore field development to 70% onshore field development through the creation of 27 man-made islands, each the size of 10 soccer fields, connected with 41 km of causeway while 13 offshore platforms were installed for the field’s deeper water locations,” said Hanbzazah.
The field’s geography in the shallow waters of the Arabian Gulf ’s fragile ecology required unique, environmentally friendly access solutions involving a novel causeway design linking drilling islands. “We collaborated with both local and international academic institutions to optimize the design of the Manifa causeway,” said Khaled A. Al-Buraik, vice president of engineering and development at Saudi Aramco. “The Arabian Gulf was studied taking into account numerous environmental considerations to minimize traffic in shallow waters and allow natural marine growth. The design mapped and considered coral reef for formations and the habitats of marine life.”
Although a major driver for the causeway concept for the Manifa development was to improve project economics, carefully placing the artificial islands on the Gulf also helped ensure a minimum environmental footprint. As a result, the Manifa field became the largest extended-reach hydrocarbon producer project in the world. “Thus, Manifa contains the largest number of extended- reach wells (ERWs) as two-thirds of the wells in the field are ERWs by industry standards, some with a total depth of 37,000 ft, departing beyond 26,000 ft from surface locations,” said Hanbzazah.
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