Three Saudi Aramco initiatives were recently honored at the Manufacturing Leadership Summit in California for their contributions to engineering and production technology leadership.
APC technology in a conventional oil field
The first award recognized a groundbreaking Saudi Aramco pilot project to implement Advance Process Control (APC) technology in a conventional oil field.
Many of Saudi Aramco’s oil fields utilize an ‘intelligent field infrastructure’ to connect and monitor or control the operation. APC implementation utilizing these intelligent fields will enable efficient oil production and better reservoir management across the company. The pilot demonstrated reduced power consumption by efficiently managing electric submersible pumps (ESPs) installed deep underground, and improved flow compliance to target production.
Injection control algorithm
The second award recognized the Demulsifier Dosing Automation Enhancement Project at the South Ghawar Producing Department.
Proper dosing of demulsifier is critical to the performance of gas-oil separation plants and to maintain crude quality for our customers. The Simplified Logic Injection Control (SLIC) demulsifier automation algorithm not only automatically adjusts for changing rates and temperature, but the responses are also pre-programmed for commonly occurring process upsets.
The SLIC algorithm was developed completely in-house all the way from the concept stage to the programming for the diverse Distributed Control System in service. Designed to be robust so that it is easily operated, the concept is modular and adjustable, so if new technologies such as the salt-in-crude analyzer are implemented, this can be easily impeded in the SLIC algorithm.
The initiative has resulted in several improvements, including fully automated demulsifier control through proactive, reactive, and preventive modes of operation as well as stabilized process parameters and reduced upsets. It also has simplified the control by minimizing operation intervention and has reduced established input parameters with improved automation uptime and an effective service factor.
The final Manufacturing Leadership award recognized Saudi Aramco’s North Ghawar Producing Department (NGPD) and Research and Development Center (R&DC) Department for its work on the online conductivity and salt-in-crude analyzers.
Saudi Aramco specifies that the maximum salt content of the export crude oil shall be lower than 10 pounds per thousand barrels. That value is commonly specified by the refineries receiving crude oil to prevent costly corrosion in the equipment, catalyst deactivation, and/or higher fuel consumption due to the fouling of the heat exchangers used to preheat the crude. Continuous, real-time salt-in-crude measurements allow a proactive approach to guarantee that the produced crude oil is within specification at all times.
The salt-in-crude analyzer was developed by R&DC as an innovative approach that improves other industry practices by using a robust and simplified design more suitable for its application to oil fields’ scattered facilities due to its minimal maintenance and calibration needs. Reliable and accurate salt-in-crude analyzers open many real-time optimization possibilities in surface production facilities that have a large business impact.