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NGL Recovery Program Next Stage in Shaybah


In 1998, Saudi Aramco achieved what to any observer might have appeared to have been the impossible – the Shaybah field came online after Saudi Aramco employees, man and machines overcame a set of challenges that were probably unprecedented in the history of the energy industry.

Fast forward to 2012: expansion of company operations in the Rub’ al-Khali, or Empty Quarter, hasn’t stopped. Shaybah’s natural gas liquids (NGL) recovery facilities are undergoing a major development in line with the company’s corporate strategy to maximize revenues by significantly boosting the recovery of resources.

The program includes building a grassroots NGL Recovery Plant, increasing gas handling of the existing Shaybah gas-oil separation plants (GOSPs) and building a new pipeline to deliver the recovered NGL for further processing.

The new facilities are being installed at various sabkhas (salt flats) in the Shaybah field. At Sabkha-57, the plant has just taken delivery of a hulking high-pressure trap (HPPT) vessel. Everything will be in place to introduce NGL recovery from the field by 2014.

Major upgrades of the GOSPs are underway — including a major boost to the power generation infrastructure — and a whole new power line network is being draped high above the dunes.

Shaybah NGL program director Abdullah A. Al-Sughaiyer explained that the Shaybah field is still a work in progress that retains vast potential.

“The NGL facilities at Shaybah are expected to help us meet increasing demand for petrochemical feedstock by recovering valuable NGL from produced gas. Shaybah is still a symbol of possibility. The attention and focus Shaybah is receiving from all levels of business, government and academia is at an all-time high,” he said.

The scope of the project is impressive and involves the construction of inlet facilities, gas treating units, NGL recovery trains, dehydration, residue gas compression, acid gas compression, NGL storage and shipping, an upgrade of the gas handling capacity for the four existing Shaybah GOSPs and other associated electrical and non-electrical utilities.

The project also includes a major upgrade to increase the power generation capacity to more than 1 gigawatt (GW) by installing four cogeneration units, seven single cycle units, a 50-kilometer 230 kilovolt transmission line, and the associated electrical and non-electrical utilities.

The new facilities will extract high-value NGL components from 2,400 million standard cubic feet per day of Shaybah associated gas arriving from different existing GOSPs.

Shaybah NGL development manager Bader Al-Saud indicated that this new grass roots facility is part of multiphase plan and will be the cornerstone for the NGL recovery program in the Rub’ al-Khali. The facility has been size-optimized for operation and includes the latest technologies with provision for future expansion.


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