Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) won three out of five awards at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC).
The awards recognize leading initiatives, projects, and technologies that have displayed excellence on a global scale. EXPEC ARC garnered first place in the categories of technological innovation, digital transformation, and personal achievement.
The world’s slimmest, most compact hydraulic tractor project was awarded first place in the Best Technological Innovation and Research Project of the Year category. The hydraulic tractor enables engineers to inject stimulation chemicals deep into the extended reach wells; more stimulation means more oil production.
This new generation of strong tractors is a major breakthrough with global implications in small diameter extended reach wells that will eliminate the need for costly and time-consuming rigs.
With a 2.125 inch outer diameter and 20 feet in length, the tractor is the world’s slimmest, most compact coil tubing (CT) tractor and a key enabler for intervention in horizontal extended reach open hole wells that have small internal diameters. The tractor does not require electrical power to operate and is run by hydraulic power generated by water, which is injected through the CT. It is also cost-effective and rigless. The tools are modified to enable the pulling of logging tools deeper into areas that were otherwise inaccessible.
This new technology provides significant impact in supporting Upstream business goals of ensuring operations are cost-effective, as well as maximizing production from extended reach wells.
“One major aspect of this technology is how it is uniquely designed to go smoothly through the smallest restrictions, then expand downhole to much bigger diameters and provide reliable and safe, powerful performance in cased and open holes,” said Abubaker S. Saeed, petroleum engineer and Slim Tractor project lead.
The hydraulic tractor was jointly developed by EXPEC ARC and Western Well Tools, and recently trial tested with the support of Northern Area Production Engineering and the Well Services and Northern Reservoir Management departments. The technology was recently tested in five wells and successfully resulted in increasing production many times over.
The best digital transformation
The Kingdom’s first intelligent carbon dioxide (CO2) enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and sequestration demonstration project took first place in the Best Digital Transformation Project category. The demonstration project, led by EXPEC ARC’s Reservoir Engineering Technology Division in collaboration with Petroleum Engineering and Development, Southern Area Oil Operations, and Hawiyah NGL Recovery Plant Department, tests the feasibility of sequestering CO2 through EOR, a win-win approach and strategic project for the company.
The demonstration project is uniquely designed as an intelligent field project. The entire infrastructure — CO2 capture plant, pipelines, injection manifold, injector, producer and observation wells, wellheads, fluid handling facility, etc. — is fully instrumented to provide real-time data for monitoring and surveillance purposes. The project’s high-tech communication system allows reservoir engineers to capture and leverage sensor-based data across the whole spectrum to monitor and control the project’s performance in real-time, improve efficiency, sustainability, quality, and safety.
“The carbon capture sequestration project is a first-of-its-kind project in the Middle East — not only in terms of scale and operation, but also as a transformative digital project,” said Sunil L. Kokal, principal professional and project lead.
The underground sequestration of CO2, a greenhouse gas, is the major focus of this project. It is injecting about 2,000 tons of CO2 every day, equivalent to about 170,000 cars being taken off the road annually. The project is another example of Saudi Aramco’s long history of environmental stewardship and leadership.
Young ADIPEC engineer
Sarah F. Alsaif, a petroleum engineer with the EXPEC ARC Reservoir Engineering Technology Division, was awarded the Young ADIPEC Engineer Award. Alsaif has a B.S. degree in petroleum engineering with special distinction from the University of Oklahoma, and an M.S. degree in petroleum engineering from Stanford University.
With a solid foundation in petroleum engineering, Alsaif’s research area focuses on reservoir monitoring, reservoir simulation, and uncertainty quantification. She works on uncertainty quantification workflow development and deployment to interpret electromagnetic surveys for fluid saturation mapping involving reservoir modeling and simulation. Also, her work on uncertainty quantification has resulted in eight technical publications at different local and international conferences.
“Winning the Young ADIPEC Engineer Award is a great testament to the hard work and passion of the youth at Saudi Aramco,” Alsaif says. “It is an honor to be recognized among successful, accomplished young engineers in the region.”
Alsaif is a member of the Women Development and Diversity Advisory Board of Saudi Aramco that supports attracting, retaining, and developing women in the workforce, in addition to supporting a diverse and inclusive workforce overall. She is also a champion of the Women at EXPEC ARC Network, which ensures female employees have access to equal opportunities as men and are empowered to achieve their goals. She is an active member of the department’s Young Researchers Program, dedicated to developing young engineers to become industry leaders in their area of expertise. Alsaif advises young engineers to be open to new ideas and push themselves to step outside their comfort zone.
“Being selected as winners of three major award categories at ADIPEC is definitely an honor and also supports our vision that includes becoming globally renowned for invention and innovation,” said Ali A. Al-Meshari, EXPEC ARC manager. “Such recognition of leading research and milestones undertaken in these three categories illustrates how EXPEC ARC is advancing Saudi Aramco’s success in optimizing production and recovery, and preparing our next generation to develop further efficiencies for the company.”