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Reducing power consumption with a world’s first in automation technology

Southern Area Oil Operations has successfully completed the world’s first pilot project to implement Advanced Process Control (APC) technology in the Khurais oil field to reduce power consumption by efficiently managing electrical submersible pumps (ESPs) that are located inside the well. This cutting-edge technology positions Saudi Aramco as a leader of automation technology in conventional oil fields.

Team members working on developing a new APC application for the Khurais oil field - from left to right: Rohit Patwardhan, Hussain Salloum and Kalpesh Patel.
Team members working on developing a new APC application for the Khurais oil field - from left to right: Rohit Patwardhan, Hussain Salloum and Kalpesh Patel.

The technology leverages upon the intelligent field infrastructure setup at Khurais and data analytics to develop models that adjust the well flow variables. It consistently monitors all available measurements and remotely optimizes the ESP’s speed and frequency, and adjusts the motorized production choke valve, as necessary, to achieve the required production targets.

As part of the pilot implementation, the technology has been successfully implemented at 13 oil wells, with demonstrated tangible benefits of improved well flow compliance, and reduced ESP power consumption. Other benefits include improved run life of the ESPs, improved safety by reducing field trips of the field crew, and the ability to manage production target changes efficiently.

The oil field’s innovative APC idea was introduced by the Process and Control Systems Department (P&CSD) and implemented by a collaborative partnership among the Khurais Producing Department (KhPD), the Southern Area Production Engineering Department (SAPED), and P&CSD.

Building upon the success of the pilot implementation, the plan is to roll out the technology to the entire Khurais oil field, resulting in significant power savings. Installing and upgrading servers and configuring wells for the APC application are ongoing, and full implementation is expected on more than 500 wells by the end of 2018.

Using our in-house expertise

The work was carried out in-house, leveraging domain expertise from various departments in Saudi Aramco, making this a truly multidisciplinary collaborative effort. In-house implementation also ensures that the intellectual property related to the success stays within Saudi Aramco.

Use of data analytics and automation in oil field management will be the new norm in the future, and Saudi Aramco is well positioned to be at the forefront to lead the way. Advanced data analytics techniques were used to identify patterns from historical data and locate clusters of similar wells. This will allow significant reduction in engineering efforts required to roll out APC to the remaining oil wells at Khurais.

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