Launching the Kingdom’s first carbon capture project


Being the largest of its kind in the Middle East, Saudi Aramco’s first carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery pilot project demonstrates commitment to environmental stewardship.

Saudi Aramco, the ultimate parent company of Aramco Asia, has launched the Kingdom’s first carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project and CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) project at its’ ‘Uthmaniyah and Hawiyah NGL facilities.

Carbon capture and sequestration is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide (CO2) from large sources, such as power plants, storing it and depositing it underground where it will not enter the atmosphere.

In the pilot project, 40 million standard cubic feet per day of CO2 will be captured at Hawiyah gas recovery plant and then piped 85 kilometers to the ‘Uthmaniyah field. At ‘Uthmaniyah, it will be injected — and sequestered, or stored — into flooded oil reservoirs under high pressure to enhance oil recovery, making it a win-win solution.

The project aims to enhance oil recovery beyond the more common method of water flooding.

"This breakthrough initiative demonstrates that we, as an industry leader, are part of the solution to proactively address global environmental challenges," said Amin H. Nasser, acting president and CEO. "Saudi Aramco is carrying out extensive research to enable us to lower our carbon footprint while continuing to supply the energy the world needs."

Reducing CO2 emissions

Led by the Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC-Advanced Research Center, the company’s Carbon Management Technology Road Map includes many focus areas with a main goal of developing the required technologies to reduce CO2 emissions.

Reducing gas flaring, introducing zero-discharge technologies at well sites, and implementing a comprehensive water conservation policy at all plants and communities are among the company’s environmental protection efforts.

Environmental stewardship has long been a hallmark of Saudi Aramco’s business, with the company’s environmental protection policy formally established in 1963 and its Master Gas System, which significantly reduced CO2 emissions, in the 1970s.

The pilot project is the latest in the company’s list of efforts, injecting 800,000 tons of CO2 every year into flooded oil reservoirs. A monitoring system is in place to measure how much of that CO2 remains sequestered underground.

“Many new technologies are being implemented, some for the first time in the Kingdom, some for the first time in the region, and many for the first time in the world,” said Waleed Al-Mulhim, EXPEC-ARC manager.

Constant monitoring

The project includes an elaborate monitoring and surveillance program that will collect data to evaluate its performance and build public confidence in the Kingdom’s — and the GCC’s — first CO2 sequestration project.

Two observation wells will measure how much of the 800,000 tons of injected CO2 will remain sequestered in the reservoir. It is estimated that as much as 40% of it will be permanently sequestered.

Monitoring will take place with a range of methods, including seismic monitoring, electromagnetic surveys, borehole and surface gravity, and inter-well tracer tests.

Near the Uthmaniyah field, where the CO2 will be injected, a new standalone high pressure production trap, a new compressor and associated facilities for handling high concentrated CO2 production streams have been built. This gas-oil separation plant, a so-called GOSP, is where the monitoring of produced fluids will take place, and where Saudi Aramco engineers will ensure that as much of the CO2 as possible remains sequestered underground.

The facility has been retrofitted to include new facilities to handle recovered fluids for further processing.

Getting the project up and running was complicated by the fact that new contractors and new technologies were being deployed, according to Mohammed A. Suwaiyel, lead project engineer with Southern Area Projects Department.

“The project has completed 11 million construction man-hours with zero incidents,” said Suwaiyel.

Over the next three to five years, the pilot project will be studied by field engineers and researchers. Lessons learned from this project will be used at facilities and fields around the Kingdom, helping to maintain Saudi Aramco’s position as the world’s most productive and reliable provider of energy.