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In our upstream operations, Saudi Aramco continues to lead the industry in terms of production, operational reliability and technology development.

We’ve embarked on the most aggressive exploration campaign ever to help provide reliable and affordable energy supplies. Significant progress has been made in both of our offshore developments: Manifa, the world’s fifth largest oil field, and Karan, the Kingdom’s first nonassociated offshore gas field. We have also made progress on the Wasit Gas Plant, which will be one of the largest integrated plants we have ever built.

In 2011, we began the first shallow-water exploration drilling project in the Red Sea. Our world-class R&D facilities have furthered our ability to explore and maximize extraction of the Kingdom’s resources, especially in challenging and complex environments.

These upstream activities present some big challenges across our Northern Area Oil Operations and Southern Area Oil Operations. You could be using industry-leading technology in our far-reaching exploration program; contributing to our unprecedented drilling and workover operations; working on massive projects in petrochemical engineering and development to coax hydrocarbon reserves from thousands of feet below desert sands or seabeds; or helping to develop a best-in-class Gas Operations business.

Discover how the dream can become reality in our upstream business.

Northern Area Oil Operations and Southern Area Oil Operations

At Saudi Aramco, we split our oil producing and processing operations geographically in our quest to meet world oil demand.

Northern Area Oil Operations (NAOO) operates and maintains onshore and offshore producing facilities in the northern area, including onshore and offshore gas-oil separation plants (GOSPs), platforms, wells, wet crude handling facilities, water injection and stabilization facilities. NAOO is also responsible for the maintenance and operations of the oil facilities located on the northeastern coastline of the Kingdom, as well as the Shaybah field to the south.

Southern Area Oil Operations (SAOO) produces and processes all the oil in the southern area; and also operates and maintains all the gas fields in the region. SAOO operates in an area of approximately 200,000 square kilometers and its fields include the largest onshore oil field in the world – the Ghawar field, discovered in 1937. SAOO is also responsible for operating and maintaining the largest seawater treatment and injection system in the world for reservoir pressure maintenance to support oil production.


At Saudi Aramco we continue to develop our Kingdom-wide exploration operations, focusing on complex onshore and offshore reservoirs and frontier areas in the Red Sea.

With the recent addition of Wedyan-1, a wildcat oil well located in the Rub’ al-Khali, we reached 113 oil and gas field discoveries. Our onshore activities have been complemented by expansion of exploration in the Red Sea. This includes drilling our first shallow water well, which involved carrying out numerous seismic surveys using technological data to improve the definition of subsurface salt bodies. In addition, in the southwest of Julayjilah and in the Midyan area, we recently completed 32 integrated 3-D geological models covering 60 oil and gas reservoirs.

Our exploration operations are underpinned by our commitment to pioneering industry-leading technologies.

We have developed in-house, patent-pending MonoSat technology that can derive critical reservoir parameters from conventional well logs in carbonate reservoirs and use them to calculate water saturation.

In 2011, we achieved a milestone in the development of the Geo-Knowledge online data access solution. This can assemble information from corporate databases and geological and geophysical specialists, and integrate it with knowledge related to specific disciplines or exploration areas and fields.

Our Computational Modeling Technology team continues to improve the speed and computational capability of GigaPOWERS™, our proprietary reservoir simulation technology.

The Hyper-Dimensional Simulation environment allows engineers to use hand gestures and voice commands to collaborate more effectively and manage huge amounts of subsurface data. With this award-winning technology, our engineers can obtain exceptional insights into the activity of Saudi Arabia’s hydrocarbon fields.

Unconventional Gas

Our Unconventional Resource Division (URD) is responsible for the exploration, appraisal and development of unconventional hydrocarbon resources for Saudi Aramco. The URD is focused on the maturation of two specific types of unconventional resource plays: tight gas and shale gas.

For many years, tight gas has been recognized as a resource base in Saudi Arabia as a result of exploration for more conventional resources. Appraisal programs for the maturation of these resources are being actively pursued along with the continued exploration efforts. Shale gas is a more recent resource target that utilizes learnings from the successful North American shale gas industry to leverage Saudi Aramco’s appraisal of these important resource-rich intervals.

The URD is organized into multidisciplinary teams that include skilled personnel from all aspects of the exploration business, from drilling through completions to geophysics and geology.

Drilling and Workover

At Saudi Aramco we’re expanding our drilling operations on a scale unprecedented in our history, both onshore and offshore, from the Arabian Gulf to the Red Sea and everything in between. As global demand for energy continues to increase, success is not a choice for us – it’s a commitment we must meet.

Deep water is a new area of interest to Saudi Aramco. We’re currently evaluating several deep water plays in the Red Sea. Extended reach horizontal and complex horizontal maximum reservoir contact (MRC) well drilling is also a growing focus for us both offshore and onshore.

We are in the development phase of the offshore Manifa field, one of the largest single offshore developments ever. The project involves the construction of a causeway, drilling islands, onshore drill sites and offshore platforms. Extended reach horizontal wells, exceeding 30,000 feet in some cases, are being drilled to reach reserves that have previously been inaccessible.

Our upstream activities are some of the most challenging in the industry. These include a diversity of both deep high-pressure/high-temperature wells, as well as highly complex deep and shallow wells; with both oil and gas.

Our mission is to safely drill and workover high-quality oil and gas wells in a cost-effective and timely manner. To do this, we call on talented individuals from over 50 countries, whose professional skills are continually honed through an extensive development program and challenging job assignments. The development program consists of in-house courses, self-development resources, sponsored graduate degree programs, and participation in professional societies and conferences.

Petroleum Engineering and Development

Throughout our history, Saudi Aramco has engaged in massive projects to coax hydrocarbon reserves from thousands of feet below desert sands or seabeds and to get these products to consumers around the globe. With the continuing advancement of oil exploration technologies, we are able to grow reserves in known fields by delineating additional oil and gas pockets, as well as exploring new fields.

One of the most important tools in the petroleum engineering toolbox is reservoir stimulation, which is used to calculate the number of wells to be drilled to develop a field, select well locations, estimate facility requirements, and develop and optimize reservoir management strategies.

Research in subsurface upstream activities is conducted by the Advanced Research Center of the company’s Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center (EXPEC ARC). In the field of exploration technology, the strategic goals are to increase reserves and improve recovery rates. At EXPEC ARC, petroleum engineers and geoscientists work closely together to build highly sophisticated 3D reservoir simulation computer programs.

Within the Event Solution Center, multidisciplinary teams focus on the solution of reservoir production issues. Their work has significantly reduced completion time for studies, compressed major decision cycles and reduced uncertainty.

Gas Operations

In the 1970s, Saudi Arabia discovered the virtues of gas as a valuable hydrocarbon resource and began developing plans to capture this valuable commodity. The Kingdom tasked Saudi Aramco to plan and implement its Master Gas System (MGS), the largest industrial project of its kind at the time. The MGS has enabled Saudi Aramco to use nearly all the gas produced, with oil production and nonassociated gas produced from deep natural reservoirs.

Today, we supply sales gas, ethane, natural gas liquids (NGLs) and sulfur to the Kingdom’s petrochemical and power generation sectors. It’s a fact that Saudi Arabia utilizes more gas per capita than the USA and Japan. Our MGS includes massive gas plants that currently handle a total gas production of over 9 billion standard cubic feet (BSCF) of gas every day. As demand for gas grows at 5% per year, continued expansion of the MGS is planned with multibillion dollar projects underway at Khursaniyah, and new grass roots facilities at Wasit and Shaybah. With these expansions, Saudi Aramco’s gas processing capacity will climb to 15.4 billion SCF of gas per day. As a result, we need professionals who can help deliver a best-in-class gas business that generates the greatest possible value from the Kingdom’s natural gas resources.