Oil production

Our investments in upstream, from exploration to production and processing, are designed to maintain our supply flexibility and world leading production capacity, enabling our role in stabilizing oil supplies in the future.

Since Dammam Well No. 7 began producing commercial quantities of crude oil in 1938, we have built an unparalleled reputation for being a reliable supplier of crude oil to energy markets around the world. Today, the production of this essential energy resource remains at the core of our business, and we supply more crude oil to the global economy than any other oil producer, producing nearly one in every eight barrels of world oil production. 

Investing in capacity

We maintained our spare oil production capacity by optimizing the mix of crude oil grades from a balanced portfolio of mature and young reservoirs.

We continuously optimize our crude oil mix, guided by our outlook and assessment of future performance.

To maximize long-term value, optimize costs, and advance recovery rates, we completed technical assessments for producing fields, integrating subsurface computational models with surface facility networks to identify and exploit beneficial synergies.

We also drilled new water injection wells to provide reservoir pressure support and installed electrical submersible pumps to increase well production rates and reduce the costs associated with surface facilities.

In 2016, we successfully executed a demanding drilling and workover schedule and made significant progress on the following major projects:


Our second 250,000 bpd expansion project at Shaybah, located in the Rub’ al-Khali or Empty Quarter, came onstream in 2016, raising its overall production capacity to 1 million bpd of Arabian Extra Light crude oil — double the facility’s original capacity.  

The field was discovered in 1968, but for technical and economic reasons development was held off until 20 years later. Its remote location, local summer temperatures in excess of 50 degrees Celsius and sand dunes higher than 300 meters presented serious challenges. But by the 1990s, advances in 3D seismic imaging technology, horizontal drilling and other technologies gave us the tools we needed. 

Sophisticated reservoir modeling enables us to optimize the development of oil fields and played a key role in doubling the original oil production capacity of our Shaybah facility, raising it to 1 million bpd.


We continued drilling wells to increase the production capacity of our Khurais field, located 150 km southeast of Riyadh, by 300,000 bpd to raise current capacity from 1.2 million bpd to 1.5 million bpd by mid-2018.  

The Khurais increment, which includes the development of the Abu Jifan and Mazalij fields, began crude oil production in June 2009. Its gas facilities treat the associated gas produced, and have the capacity to handle 70,000 bpd of condensate and 320 million scfd of gas.

Drilling work for 310 wells, initially scheduled to take three years, was completed 10 months early through a combination of innovative engineering and operations methods. 


Khurais recently collected two awards from Frost and Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council: The Sustainability Leadership award recognized our resource and energy optimization efforts, and the Engineering and Production Technology Leadership award recognized our innovative integrated analytical engineering performance monitoring tool.


As the company's largest oil processing facility and the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world, Abqaiq plays a pivotal role in our day-to-day operations.

Abqaiq oil facilities receive sour crude oil from gas-oil separation plants (GOSPs), process it into sweet crude oil, and then transport it to Ras Tanura and Jubail on the east coast, Yanbu' on the west coast and to Bapco Refinery in Bahrain. The off gases from the spheroids and stabilizer columns that are part of the conversion process are then sent to Abqaiq natural gas liquids (NGL) facilities for further processing.

Abqaiq is the main oil processing center for Arabian Extra Light and Arabian Light crude oils, with a capacity of more than seven million barrels per day (bpd). It has three main processing operations: oil, NGL and utilities.  


Abqaiq recently earned an award in the Big Data and Advanced Analytics Leadership category from Frost and Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council for an innovative system to improve energy performance, marking the third time Abqaiq has won this award.


The Haradh area, located at the southern tip of the Ghawar oil field, was developed in three increments of 300,000 bpd of Arabian Light crude oil capacity. Haradh III, the last one, also added 140 million standard cubic feet per day (scfd) of associated gas processing capacity.

Haradh III was also the first plant in the Southern Area of company operations to have completely automated well control and monitoring, allowing remote operations. The project benefited from successful integration of four technologies: multilateral, maximum reservoir contact (MRC) wells; Smart Well completions (using control valves for preventing premature water breakthrough); geosteering (for optimal placement of wells in the reservoir for maximum recovery); and the “intelligent field” concept, in which real-time sub-surface data transmissions enable continual monitoring of key reservoir indicators.

The integrated use of these four technologies slashed unit well development costs three-fold. If Haradh-III had been developed with conventional vertical wells, 280 producers would have been required, as opposed to the 32 MRCs which were used to develop the increment.


The Khursaniyah program includes facilities to process and stabilize 500,000 bpd of Arabian Light crude oil blend from the Abu Hadriya, Fadhili and Khursaniyah fields, and a grassroots gas plant to process one billion scfd of associated gas.

Khursaniyah began producing oil in August 2008. The program was accelerated using new contracting strategies for the GOSP and the gas plant. 

The facility also has the capacity to inject 1.1 million bpd of non-potable water for reservoir pressure maintenance.


The Manifa crude oil development which commenced first-phase operations in 2012, three months ahead of schedule and well under budget, is a testament to the company’s unswerving commitment to both the expansion of our production capacity and our stewardship of the environment in our operations.

Designed to ultimately produce 900,000 bpd of Arabian Heavy crude oil, 90 million scfd of sour gas, and 65,000 bpd of hydrocarbon condensate, the Manifa field is a unique development in many ways.

The project’s innovative engineering design was created to develop the field’s optimum production capacity, while caring for the environment and optimizing its budget – and it did so, so successfully, that the Manifa operation earned a UNESCO environmental responsibility award nomination.

Simultaneously, by employing best-in-class technologies in infrastructure, drilling and production activities, the project consumed more than 80 million man hours without a lost time injury – one of the best safety records in the industry, which qualified the project to receive the “Innovative Oil Project of the Year” award.

Prior to construction, extensive engineering and ecological assessments were conducted to ensure that the marine ecosystem would not be adversely affected by developing the field.

As a direct result of these studies, Saudi Aramco constructed three kilometers of bridges to span the migration paths of various marine species, maintaining natural water flow and preserving natural marine nurseries. 

Man-made islands and the main and lateral causeways for the project were constructed to house shallow-water wells, a more cost effective option than offshore rigs. Manifa consists of 41 kilometers of causeways, three kilometers of bridges, 27 drilling islands, 13 offshore platforms, 15 onshore drill sites, water supply wells, injection facilities, multiple pipelines and a 420-megawatt heat and electricity plant.


Nuayyim crude oil increment added 100,000 bpd of Arabian Super Light crude oil and 90 million scfd of associated gas to our production capacity.

The project – the first in-Kingdom project of this scale with a project proposal completed entirely in Saudi Arabia – also included a gas-oil separation plant, 140 kilometers of 16” gas pipeline, and water supply facilities at Hawtah. Smokeless flaring has been used to significantly reduce emissions. 

The field, which entered production in August 2009, is 250 kilometers south of Riyadh and about 50 kilometers northeast of our Hawtah crude oil facility, the first producing facility in the Central Region of Saudi Arabia.


Qatif Producing Plants Program consists of facilities to produce, process and transport 500,000 bpd of blended Arabian Light crude oil from the Qatif field and 300,000 bpd of Arabian Medium crude oil from the offshore Abu Sa'fah field.

The overall project includes three new gas-oil separation plants, five new and 10 upgraded offshore platforms, expansion of the Berri Gas Plant, 34 drilling islands, more than 1,000 kilometers of pipelines and other support facilities. 

The Qatif facility was the first to produce Arabian Light crude oil by blending Arabian Extra Light, Light and Medium grades. Additionally, a production of 370 million standard cubic feet per day of associated gas.