No two samples of crude oil are identical.
Unlocking crude oil’s composition secrets is critical information for our customers. It is also fundamental work toward maintaining Aramco’s oil and gas production value chain. Just like each sand grain is different, each crude oil type has its own exclusive chemical and molecular characteristics.
Furthermore — similar to how desert winds move and shape sand dunes — oil and gas reservoirs impulsively alter the composition of their fluids. The process of unlocking oil’s tempestuous mysteries is known as a “crude oil assay.”
Crude oil assay
A crude oil assay is the chemical evaluation of crude oil feedstocks by petroleum testing labs. The assay reveals extensive hydroca
rbon analysis for refiners, oil traders and producers. Importantly, the data helps refiners determine if an oil feedstock is suitable for a particular refinery. Understanding crude oil’s intricacies prevents yield, quality, and environmental issues.
Cutting out crude’s secrets
For decades, Aramco’s science labs have cut precisely into the deep secrets of Arabian oils. About every six weeks, from any one of Aramco’s reservoirs, 15 liters of oil arrives at the Aramco Research and Development Center in the company’s Dhahran headquarters.
Within the center’s walls, Advanced Technical Services Division (ATSD) scientists test the lustrous liquid’s tantalizing characteristics. Testing commences inside the second-floor distillation lab, where the crude is poured into a fractional distiller — akin to a miniature processing and refining facility.
Techniques such as gravity, heat, and cooling see the distiller meticulously separate the dynamic oil into various hydrocarbon products, known as fractions. Included in up to 13 cut fractions is gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and bitumen.