Analytical Instrumentation

How is New Technology Helping Aramco?

Sep 29 2017 Read 775 Times

New technology helps companies improve their operations in a wide range of industries – from food manufacture to scientific research – and oil production is no exception. While machinery like the traditional pumpjack is still used, there are other areas of oil which can be improved vastly by innovation. Read on to see how Saudi Aramco is improving its exploration using technology.

A brief introduction

More commonly known as simply Aramco, Saudi Aramco is the national oil and gas company of Saudi Arabia. They have the second largest crude oil reserves in the world, as well as the second largest oil production per day. As a result, they generate over a billion US dollars every day too. And they’re clearly hungry for more…

Innovating for more

The latest project on Aramco’s list is to use recently developed advanced seismic technology. It will allow them to explore new areas of the desert which have previously been seen as hopeless for oil companies. The so-called ‘Empty Quarter’ is made up over 15,000 square kilometres around Turayqa in the South East of the country.

Discovered just four years ago, Turayqa is an onshore gas field that doesn’t contain any oil. It has been explored in the past by Aramco, along with other foreign companies. Unfortunately, these joint ventures didn’t discover any significant quantities of oil or gas.

Improving chances

With seismic technology, however, there is fresh hope. It uses artificially produced shockwaves, which are monitored as they move through the earth. Standard seismic technology has around 9,000 frequencies at its disposal. However, in Aramco’s testing, the crew will have over 50,000 frequencies available.

While this technology can’t actually discover the oil, it can give an indication of what’s below. Seismic technology produced a 3d picture of the rock structure below the ground, going down many kilometres. In addition, it reveals physical characteristics like fluid saturation and density of the rock. Following this process, it’s up to Aramco’s experts to decide whether drilling should go ahead – and where to drill.

Innovation after exploration

It’s not just exploration which can be improved by technological innovation. High Resolution Mass Spectrometry has long been a technique for molecular characterisation of mixtures in the petroleum industry. However, in recent years, it has been combined with a range of ionisation techniques, to provide a huge opportunity for petroleum companies. Read more in the article ‘Selective Ionisation and Affordable High Resolution Mass Spectrometry is Revolutionising Molecular Characterisation in the Petroleum and Petrochemical Industries’.

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