Another look at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

As you may have noticed President Bush commented this past week on his (and apparently their) doubts that Saudi Arabia could significantly increase crude oil production. While this comes as no great surprise to those of you that have been reading Stuart and Euan’s excellent articles, I thought I would try and summarize the situation as I see it, and expand a little beyond the short summary paragraphs that Leanan is providing, to give more of an overall picture.

To begin you should know that when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) talks about the size of their oilfields, they refer to the amount of oil that was there at the beginning, rather than that which is left. You can do this calculation for yourself, but I exemplified it with a small calculation on the amount of oil that originally existed in the Abqaiq field , by making some simple assumptions.

(Essentially if you know the size of the field and the rock porosity - the amount of space for oil available – you can deduce the maximum volume that can be there , only a certain percentage of that is oil, and only a certain portion of that can be counted as a reserve, and thus producible – this works out to about 17 billion barrels. Of this there is only a certain percentage that can be recovered, and when this is factored in, along with the production to date, that means that, at Abqaiq, they have less than 3 billion barrels left. If they produce this quite slowly they can likely sustain perhaps 250,000 bbl/day production, but if they try and increase the production it is likely that they will strand a lot of the remaining oil, and lose it.

If we go back and look at the oilfields that produce oil for the KSA, many of them have been in production for a number of years, so that one begins to see the end of those historic sources. Nevertheless when this site began, this was the projection for reaching 11 mbd.

Current plans to reach a 12.5 mbd goal call for the following production numbers (according to Cordesman and the CSIS (pdf)
Abqaiq - 400,000 bd
Ghawar - 5,500,000 bd
Berri - 400,000 bd
Safaniya - 1,500,000 bd
Abu Sa'fah - 300,000 bd
Zuluf - 800,000 bd
Marjan - 450,000 bd
Haradh - 170,000 bd
Shaybah - 500,000 bd
Munifa - 1,000,000 bd

This gives the 11 mbd that they claim to be able to currently produce - though it includes Munifa, of which we have commented negatively earlier.

To bring this up to 12.5 mbd they plan an additional
Haradh - 300,000 bd
Khursaniyah 500,000 bd
Shaybah - 500,000 bd
Khurais - 1,100,000 bd

Stuart, Khebab, and Euan looked at what is happening in the north end of the largest oilfield Ghawar – and came to the conclusion that it too was nearing the end of its major productive status, though it will, not doubt, continue to produce significant – though lesser – quantities of oil into the future. We can anticipate similar drops in production from the other older fields, although Abqiaq is the furthest along.

Saudi Aramco have historically added wells in a field to sustain production and to reduce the overall decline in field volumes as individual wells begin to drop out (I was going to say dry up, but since they produce with water flooding it won’t work). But when you reach the point that the entire field is drilled, then new fields must be opened up to maintain overall country production. It is this increase that is shown at the Megaprojects Wikipedia site.

The planned field expansion must include the drop in existing wells, and add to this if the overall country is to be able to increase the volume that it can deliver to the market. Overall current well depletion has been quoted at around 800,000 bd/year. If, for the sake of discussion, we say that a new well comes on stream at 4,000 bd, then we need some 200 new wells, just to maintain existing production levels. If there are 50 rigs drilling for oil, then each must create four successful new wells a year, just to maintain the status quo. (And even in KSA they are not always successful).

On Friday Leanan noted an update on the most recent projections, as carried in the Economist. The news is not that optimistic. Consider:

It is not too often that Saudi Aramco announces a delay in project start-up. Thus, when it said that it was not yet ready to bring on stream the 500,000-barrel/day Khursaniyah oil field development, some eyebrows were raised. All major contracts on the estimated US$6bn project—more properly known as the Abu Hadriyah, Fadhili and Khursaniyah (AFK) development—were awarded by third quarter 2005, after a relatively rapid tendering period, with completion and first testing due in late 2007.

After reports started to come out indicating that the deadline would be missed, Saudi Aramco put out a statement in late December indicating that pre-commissioning activities were underway and that work on most of the AFK facilities had been completed.

The new schedule calls for a late February start. For the next projects, the news is no better:

In Saudi Arabia, another major oil project, a 250,000-b/d expansion of the Shaybah field, located in the Empty Quarter, is also facing deadline pressures. SNC Lavalin, a Canadian engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm, is working hard to make up some lost time on the project, but it is thought to be unlikely to meet its late-2008 completion date.

Further on, Aramco has also delayed issuing the tender for the pipeline package on the 900,000-b/d Manifa development, following requests from contractors who claim to be overloaded.

The Manifa/Munifa delay is perhaps, given its size, of the most concern. This is also the oil which gets counted as part of the KSA available supply, but which they cannot market until they have the refineries in place to handle it, since it requires special processing. The projects have become more expensive, and possibly delayed further than their initial 2011 start as reported on Goliath.

In May 2006, Saudi Aramco signed a JV agreement with Total to build a 400,000 b/d heavy conversion refinery in Jubail, on the Gulf coast, at a then estimated cost of about $6 bn, to start up in 2011. In the same month it signed a JV deal with ConocoPhillips for a similar 400,000 b/d plant at Yanbu' on the Red Sea coast. Under both deals, Saudi Aramco and Total will hold 35% stakes in the Jubail JV, with a similar shareholding between it and ConocoPhillips. The remaining 30% in each of the two JV are to be offered to local investors through IPOs. Since then the Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ministry has launched a 250,000-400,000 b/d refining JV to be built at Jizan, on Saudi Arabia's south-western coast. Although Saudi Aramco has not joined this JV, with the ministry having short-listed five IOCs to negotiate the partnership terms, major IOCs like ExxonMobil and Chevron refused to join the project.

All three projects, however, have since become problematic. Each of the Jubail and Yanbu' JVs now is said likely to cost over $13 bn, more than double the May 2006 estimate. The Jizan JV is estimated to cost between $7-12 bn. So the IOCs involved in the three JVs have delayed making a final investment decision and, as a result, project costs are likely to rise further in the coming months.

Part of the problem in delaying projects comes about because of the continuing decline in production from existing wells. That is pretty inexorable, so that if the 1 mbd of oil from Manifa is initially set to partially offset declining production, and partially to increase that available, if it is set-back a year then virtually all of the increase will go only to match existing decline, and there is no increase in overall production. In short it increasingly looks as the KSA is at plateau, which is pretty much what they appear to have told President Bush, and he then related on to us.

Good overall analysis, though help us to understand the lead statement in your last paragraph;

Part of the problem in delaying projects comes about because of the continuing decline in production from existing wells.

One would think that decline would provide an impetus to speed projects, unless you are implying hoarding. What is your intent or observation with this statement?

I think he is saying that if projects are delayed their production won't allow Saudi's total production to increase because it will be offset by declines from other wells.

Let me see if I can clarify with a simplified example (i.e. these are not exact numbers).

If the KSA is producing 9 mbd for example from existing wells, and they are depleting at 800,000 bd per year, then next year they will produce 8.2 mbd and if they add 1 mbd in new wells, they will produce a total of 9.2 mbd, i.e. sustaining production levels. But if that increment is delayed a year, then the 9 mbd will have fallen through 8.2 to 7.4 mbd, so that when the 1 mbd of new production is added, the total production will be 8.4 in the third year, and they never catch back up to the initial production level.

In other words every year the decline from existing wells accumulates, and in any year when that decline is not matched with new wells, then overall country production will fall.

The hurrier I go the behinder I get.

Ok, I thought you were suggesting declining wells were in part responsible for delaying projects. Understood now.

HO - its important to remember that Saudi still has undrilled areas on the existing supergiants that can be drilled to maintain production that are not recorded in new projects and that at any point in time they might have a number of wells lying fallow - representing reserve capacity.

The latest from the IEA shows that KSA is reversing declines from 2006 - rather effortlessly - without new mega-projects coming on. But the general point you make about delays feeding through to erode future capacity is a valid one.

Forecast numbers are production capacity. Actual production may be lower depending upon demand. Click all charts to enlarge

Here's my forecast from last year. The effect of delaying projects on this will be to lower peak and push peak back - in essence to put Saudi on an undulating extended plateau - an outcome that will suit them very well I believe.

For those who are interested, the presentations given by myself and Stuart at ASPO USA conference in Houston can be downloaded from the ASPO USA web site (chunky pdfs):

Thanks, Euan:
In regard to the issue of letting wells lie fallow, as I recall there was some issue earlier last year as to whether they had stopped production from Abqaiq, since it wasn't on one of the production lists. It is a very valid point. And for some of the older fields I would also accept the point about still having undrilled areas to go after, but on the other hand I would bring up the 50 rig number, since the last time that I checked it had been stable for a while, for oil, and the increase in rig count had been put into the natural gas side of the house. So while I concur that they can increase production some, I have increasing doubts that they can make 11 mbd, let alone the higher numbers that they were promising earlier.

I noticed that Leanan had a story at the top of Drumbeat today about the delays in bringing on-line the refineries to take the Manifa oil (and thus that million bd of production) so that they are now not likely going to be available until 2013. That will surely extend the plateau, and removes short-term capability to respond to the market.

"HO-its important to remember that Saudi still has undrilled areas on the existing supergiants that can be drilled to maintain production that are not recorded in new projects and that at any point in time they might have a number of wells lying fallow - representing reserve capacity."


Such a simple word with such important implications.

dont the saudi's claim they are producing at gravity stable rates ? it would seem that leaving wells sit fallow is necessary to maintain this gravity stable rate. also drilling additional wells would allow an increase in rate, but at a cost of leaving oil in the ground (exceeding their gravity stable rate).

I think an important point to bear in mind is what al Huseini said last October: KSA can maintain 12.5 indefinitely, but going above that will eat into stability of the fields.

I believe him. This is an example of "data" that really is nothing more than belief or trust, but I can think of no reason for Huseini to be lying or blowing smoke. For the reasons stated in above posts, I think they have fields being held backa nd they have areas of existing fields to exploit yet. I expect steady production from the KSA well past 2020. I don't expect any more than 12.5 at any time, except under duress, which may well happen.


EDIT: Caveat from further down the thread:

al Huseini was perhaps no longer at ARAMCO when the info on the increased water was learned. However, given he still has contacts, this may not change his prediction at all.

maybe al huseini was refering to total production, oil and water.

Your current production numbers seem to include some double (triple) dipping

Ghawar - 5,500,000 bd
Haradh - 170,000 bd
Haradh - 300,000 bd

Last I looked Haradh was included under the Ghawar heading and although Haradh III might count as new capacity Haradh I & II at 300kbpd each were included in the Ghawar total. I can't check the CSIS paper you reference since the link doesn't work for me.

Oops, sorry - I have a copy of the report that I downloaded, back when those things were still free. I also have a couple of the books, and from Energy Developments in the Middle East I get a couple of useful bits of info:
Total Saudi Depletion (in 2003) 28%; Abqaiq 73%; Ain Dar/Shedgum 60%; Ghawar 48%; Berri 28%; Safaniya 26%; Abu Sa'fah 21%; Zuluf 16%; Marjan 13%; Haradh 10% and Shaybah 5%.

Sorry that it looks as though you will have to pay to get the info from CSIS now.

There is this document:

Saudi Arabia’s Strategic Energy Initiative:Safeguarding Against Supply Disruptions

by the Saudi National Security Assessment Project, a think-tank of some sort in Riyadh. It has these figures:

Expedited Production Schedule

  • Abu Safah & Qatif: Upgrade completed late 2004 at cost of $4 billion.
    • In January 2004: 300,000 b/d.
    • In March 2005: produced additional 500,000 b/d (for total of
    800,000 b/d).

  • Haradh: Expansion estimated to cost $1.5 billion.*
    • In January 2004: 170,000 b/d.
    • April 2006: 300,000 b/d came on stream.
  • Khursaniyah: $4 billion to June 2007.*
    • In January 2004: 100,000 b/d.
    • By June 2007 to reach 500,000 b/d.
  • Shaybah: Expansion estimated to cost $1.5 billion.*
    • In January 2004: 500,000 b/d.
    • By April 2008: 300,000 b/d will come on stream.
  • Nuayyim: $350 million expansion project has begun.*
    • In January 2004: not online.
    • By Feb 2009: will increase to 100,000 million b/d.
  • Khoreis: $6 billion expansion project has begun.*
    • In January 2004: 150,000 b/d.
    • By March 2009: expected to increase to 1.1 million b/d.

    Now, I don't know what it means that Haradh was producing 170,000 BPD in 2004. I know that the HaradhIII area was not producing that. So, does that mean that Haradh I and II, despite having 600,000 BPD "capacity" were only churning out 170k? Or, perhaps Haradh III had a "capacity" of that, giving a whole new meaning to that term.

    It's only numbers.

    *According to one apocryphal tale, an American population expert went to Saudi Arabia to take a census. He called on King Abdul Aziz al Saud (Ibn Saud), who told him: "You're wasting your time. There are 7 million people here." With apologies, the American said there could not be more than 3 million. "You're wrong," said the King. "There are at least 6 million." Begging forgiveness for his audacity, the American insisted that surely there were no more than 4 million. At this point the King held out his hand and closed the deal, bazaar-style, saying: "All right, five and a half."

    From Time Magazine, 1978

  • Thanks for the list - though I would point out that it was given in 2006, and that the Khursaniyah development that was supposed to be on line last June is now projected for the end of next month, which with the slippage of the other projects, is moving away the potential for increased production. Their target, bear in mind, from that document, was that they would be able to develop a sustained production of 12 mbd this year. The slippage in production that we are now seeing suggests that they will not be able to come up to that number.

    My point is that we don't know what the numbers that they give out mean. So they project 1.2 MBD from Khurais. When they announced that number, they had not done a 3D Seismic survey. Will it ever produce that? Well, maybe not, but it has the "capacity". And capacity always comes in blocks of 100,000 barrels/day, never mind the geology.

    Hi Joules - that's a great find.

    Nawaf Obaid is currently the Managing Director of the Saudi National Security Assessment Project, a government consultancy based in Riyadh. He is also the private Security & Energy Advisor to HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal, the Saudi Ambassador to the US.

    I can live with this capacity forecast if projects come on time. He is using 7.3% decline of existing fields.

    He is also an author on this 2005 CSIS paper, which may be the one that HO was referring to at top:

    This begs a question: If KSA is seeing decline of 7.3, how can world decline be 4.5, a la CERA? Curiouser and curiouser...

    CERA aggregate decline of 4.5% is made up of higher decline in mature assets combined with no decline / build up / plateau in new assets. So it is the average of everything and they point out that a large chunk of current global oil production actually comes from new assets - which have not yet started to decline

    In KSA the producing assets are by in large pretty old. So in the absence of new projects, the decline rate is a bit higher.

    Thanks for that. But the whole issue is that we need new to counteract decline, so... shouldn't we be counting them separately so it's clear how much we really need?


    Found it.

    The 170,000 is gas condensate, not the Haradh I, II and III oil fields tranches. Still interesting numbers.

    Phew! Thanks Gary.

    It's amazing that the Haradh Gas Plant was operating exactly at capacity in 2004. I hope they stopped drilling gas wells.

    [strokes imaginary beard]

    Somehow I doubt the field is producing exactly to the capacity of the plant. Seems more likely the one transposed to the other in someone's totalling up. Still this is gas produced from other reservoir layers of Ghawar, not the Arab-D with the oil which we all know and obsess over.

    If Saudi reserves numbers are 'the most the fields ever held', are Saudi production numbers similarly 'the best we could do if everything worked right, all at the same time'? It would have a nice symmetry in approach and explain the extreme numbers quoted...

    Now you're getting it. Production equals Capacity. It's easy.

    Now you're ready for the bonus round. Read the following document and try to reconcile all the contradictions. Good luck, and thanks for playing.

    In short it increasingly looks as the KSA is at plateau, which is pretty much what they appear to have told President Bush, and he then related on to us.

    This, a plateau, is certainly true on a recent monthly basis, but not on an annual basis. We will have to see what happens in 2008.

    BTW, Texas peaked at 3.5 mbpd (C+C), but its long term pre-peak average production was probably a lot closer to 2.5 to 3.0 mbpd. The Texas RRC effectively controlled the world price of oil from about 1935 to 1972, by acting as the swing producer.

    To put 2005 Saudi production in perspective, the 2005 Saudi (C+C) production level was therefore probably on the order of close to three to four times the average Texas pre-peak production.

    Top Five (Khebab/Brown) Exporters Paper:

    In January, 2006, we noted, based on the HL models, that Saudi Arabia was at about the same stage of depletion at which Texas peaked, and we followed that up with our Texas/Lower 48 article published in May, 2006, which made a more detailed quantitative case for a near term Saudi oil production peak. In that article, we showed 2005 Saudi crude + condensate production lined up with Texas 1972 crude + condensate production. Figure 5 shows this graph, updated with the 2006 and 2007 to date production data. While this graph could suggest that Saudi Arabia is in terminal decline, the evidence for a long term decline is not yet conclusive. We do know that annual Texas oil production in the Seventies fell against a backdrop of rising oil prices and a rapid increase in drilling activity, which is the same pattern that we are now seeing in Saudi Arabia, at least on an annual basis. In any case, Saudi Arabia will have to show an annual production rate of about 9.6 mbpd or more (crude + condensate) in order to refute the 2005 peak. We can say that at a minimum the preponderance of the data suggest that the conventional wisdom estimates of remaining recoverable Saudi oil reserves are significantly overstated.

    BTW, if Bob Cousins drops by with his usual ad hominem attack and run comment, could you please explain how any aspect of the Texas/Saudi graph is misleading?

    This statement is interesting:

    If they produce this quite slowly they can likely sustain perhaps 250,000 bbl/day production, but if they try and increase the production it is likely that they will strand a lot of the remaining oil, and lose it.

    It leads me to wonder if a turning point will be reached when production will be limited to increase total recoverable oil at the expense of faster production of oil. That is, that it is better to produce 3 billion barrels of oil slowly rather than 2 billion barrels of oil quickly.

    I'm sure production is weighed against recoverable oil when production amounts are set. However, at some point total recoverable oil might take precedence over higher production to a much greater degree than it is currently - especially when viewed as extending reserves for domestic consumption.

    I believe this is Aramco policy, based on some comments that they have made in the past. It is why I believe they are more likely to run Abqaiq at 250,000 bd or less, rather than the higher 400,000 bd levels that would give the greater production that they were promising a couple of years ago.

    Part of the question that remains relates to how many of the wells in the old fields have been changed to horizontal wells. My growing suspicion is that the number is not nearly as large a percentage as I had originally anticipated.

    If this is Aramco's policy, then it could explain (at least, partially) the difference between their claimed production capabilities and their current production amounts. Additionally, it would clearly show that their claimed production capabilities will never be met, since they consider recoverable oil to be a more important issue than higher production (again, if this is their policy).

    It would be interesting to compare the current production amounts with the claimed production capabilities over time, and see if the actual production amounts have been getting more conservative (i.e. further away from the claimed production capabilities). It would be an Aramco "sum over histories" of production, if you will. However, I do not know if this data is publicly available.

    I love reading the comments from all of you folks. I was just wondering if anybody had made comments in reference to a leaked Saudi report that says Ghawar has higher water levels than they have been letting on,25197,23003696-30538,00.html

    As I read that report I get the impression that it is based on the great detective work that Stuart and Euan pioneered and which has been picked up and facilitated by others.

    That was my impression too.

    3 billion barrels left in Abquaiq, pumped at 250,000 barrels per day. That means it will take them almost 33 years to get it all. Is that real?

    No. It will take them much longer than 33 years to get it all. Look at Texas, or better yet, at the Permian Basin Trust figures. Long, slow decline. This field will be producing oil 60 to 80 years from now, just not as much.

    Note that the Texas net decline rate (decline from existing wells + new wells, workover, etc.) has been about -4%/year. The 2006 and 2007 observed annual Saudi decline rates are in the same range.

    Here in the USA, the right-wing noise machine is blaming "Democrats," "liberals" and "radical environmentalists" for the increasing shortage of oil. "If only the Democrats, libs and radical environmentalists would get off the back of Exxon-Mobil and let them drill in ANWR and off-shore Gulf of Mexico, we'd have enough oil for 1000 years."

    So I'm wondering, now that Saudi Arabia seems to be declining in production, I can just picture what they'll say. "If only those Saudi Democrats/libs/radical environmentalists would just get off the back of Aramco and let them drill in the Empty Quarter, we'd have enough oil to last 1000 years."

    I sure wish I could understand Arabic. Then I'd be able to listen to the Saudi "Al Limbaugh" rather than the Arabian "liberal media" as represented by Al Jazeera. My loss.

    - Oz

    In the North Sea, private oil companies--with virtually no restrictions on drilling and with the best available technology--have succeeded in keeping the post-peak crude oil production decline rate down to about -4.5%/year.

    That is overall (North Sea) production (4-5 % annual decline), westexas.

    For individual fields the decline rates are all over the place, but an average annual decline rate of 12 - 13 % from fields in production can be observed from actual NPD (Norwegian Petroleum Directorate) data.

    Sorry Westexas, I have to call you out on this one.

    The north sea hasn’t seen unfettered drilling to reduce the decline, because last year our wonderfully “prudent” chancellor massively upped the per barrel levy that firms in the North Sea pay HM Treasury.

    As a result, some projects that would have been considered marginal before the massive tax hike, were shelved, or cancelled. Thus there is a direct connection between above ground factors and the resulting decline rate. Indeed the UKOOA are now complaining that high tax is actively forcing companies to redirect investment monies into other oil regions around the world instead of the North Sea.

    I have to ask what effect a Texan $50/barrel levy on oil would have had post 1985 on the Texan oil extraction rate? Would that have increased or decreased oil extraction rate?

    So there are above ground factors.



    The North Sea refers to the entire region, not just the UK. The function of oil companies in post-peak conventional regions is to slow the rate of decline. It's just a question of what the decline rate is.

    Taking into account the differences in the ways the business/oil community communicates with each other and the world, it might be just as valuable to analyse these ways of communication as it is to analyze the actual evidence that is currently being done by THEOILDRUM and others. I have always had a certain sense of when someone is being truthful with me or not and we all have those senses. Russia has a certain track record in dealing with the west and their oil companies, also a very tangible cultural style. Take all these factors and put them under a psychologists microscope and what comes up?

    Currently we look at the limited empirical evidence that is available. Typically what do we know about fields in the North Sea, the USA, Canada and what sort of suprises are there that were missed? We knew about the limiting factors of oil production, but not many mainstreamers listened to what we were saying until now. So would it be possible to look at the probabilities of what we missed on the western oil fields with our level of transparency and what has been missed on Saudi Arabia's oil fields with their level of transparency and how much more this might "compound" the ultimate oil shock in an exponential way. Currently it feels a lot like pin the tail on the donkey!

    On what basis do you base the decline rate in KSA at 800,000 mbd/y? This is about 7.2% of their current output. The figure quoted above also make me think that coming off the plateau the KSA output could be subject an "us first" policy, lowering output to extend the life of the resource, based on the fact that KSA has not been open and honest (if they are in decline) they are obviously tiptoeing down the line between self interest (of oil supply and longevity) vs self interest (of military power supplied by the US). Sooner or later reality will bite, What will be the Geopolitical fallout?

    This also brings into question any comparison to the 70's US decline, simply because a) the technology has changed and b) The nationalistic influence was not in play.

    This may also be a blessing for the world's capability to cope will a falling oil supply, if these factors cause rumbles continuously over the next decade, this would be preferable to an almighty crash.


    The number came from information from, among others Aramco, in explaining some of the figures that went into the CSIS report a couple of the new field production numbers were explicitly set aside at that time to cover depletion from existing wells. Sorry that I don't have that source immediately to hand.

    If the assumption is made that the depletion rate follows the simple interest formula then

    I = P * r * t

    Where P = initial production,
    r = depletion in %,
    t = number of time periods.

    Using the convolution integral and assuming the input starts at zero with the limits of the integral are from 0 to t,

    Then the system response would be

    I / P = r * t = h(t) and

    the input would be

    P * u-1(t) where u-1(t) is a step function.

    The output would be,

    I = integral [h(t – tau) * P * u-1(tau) d(tau)],

    I = integral [r * (t – tau) * P d(tau)]

    I = P * r * integral [t * d(tau) – tau * d(tau)]

    I = ½ * P * r * t * t.

    So the way I figure it, after 1 year with P = 9 million barrels and r = - .088

    I = ½ * 9,000,000 * -.088

    I = -400,000 bbls.

    After 2 years

    I = ½ * 9,000,000 * -.088 * 2 * 2

    I = -1,584,000 bbls.

    After 3 years

    I = ½ * 9,000,000 * -.088 * 3 * 3.

    I = -3,564,000 bbls.
    Using the simple interest equation

    The depletion would = -2,376,000.

    This may be the reason they cannot keep pace because apparently the depletion follows a parabolic curve.

    this is probably a dumb question but I feel the need to hear what/how this works

    Im not a geologist, just following and picking up stuff here and there on this site for about a year and a half, but if youve got an oil field capped on top with rock or some solid material, oil trapped in porous sand or sandstone below and your forcing water up from beneath under pressure which from what I can gather is pretty typical at Ghawar and the surrounding fields? So if thats the case as the field gets depeleted and the oil forced upwards into a smaller cap area basically I would think you would have to back off on the flow rate over time or risk forcing the oil away or water up thru it from below? Is this even close? Does the field pressure typically have to be raised towards the end of the fields useful life? If it is then I don't see why the above parabolic decline wouldn't be true, physics would pretty force it to. I know there's a measurement for how permeable the oil bearing area is, is there a "viscosity" number too that also effects how this works? I would assume the heavier grades of oil aren't very cooperative?

    No it is not a dumb question, but the answer lies in part in what sort of well that you are producing the oil out of. Historically the wells were sensibly vertical, and the pressure that you control is not the pressure of the oil in the rock, but the pressure of the fluid in the well (by adjustment of chokes at the wellhead). By adjusting the difference in pressure between the fluid in the rock and that in the well you change the forces driving the oil towards the well. But as the oil flows to the well, and the oil at the bottom of the formation is replaced with water, then the section of the well producing oil gets shorter and production drops.

    Now there are other problems because, in creating this difference in pressures, where there are more permeable layers, then fluid can move up these more easily and if these feed down into the water layer then water can migrate up them faster than adjacent oil can get to the well.

    Where this well is a horizontal one, then conventionally that is about all she wrote when the water hits the well - with the newer smart wells, however, they can valve off the zone where the water is entering the well, so that they can continue getting oil from the other segments. I believe most of the wells in the new Haradh development have been smart wells, but I am not sure how many of the other fields are using them.

    Another dumb question, as I am totally ignorant of reservoir management.

    There have been many improvements in open hole permeability measurements and zone resolution involving coring and logging tools.

    Can you omit perforating in high permeability zones so the fluid has to pass through adjacent medium zones to be produced? This would reduce water invasion when enhanced recovery is attempted later.
    Of course this would only be attempted in very large pay zones of 100 foot or more.

    In the case of Ghawar, where the Super-K intervals provide the high productivity, doing this at the onset of production would severly limit your oil production. It's not even certain that this would help get more of the oil out.

    What has been done is to choke off the high permeability segments after the water has arrived, but this has not really worked as expected. Read pages 76-77 in Paul Voelker's Thesis from Stanford.

    At the 5/2/2006 Center for Strategic & International Studies Forum, the Petroleum & Minerals Minister Ali Ibrahim al-Naimi stated: "I believe there are at least 14 trillion barrels of reserves left, 7 trillion of which are conventional. With advancing technology, we'll produce more of it."

    What is wrong here? We should demand answers or retractions to such statements, until everyone is satisfied! Holding hands by W with the Saudi King was empty handed - what happened to the 14 Trillion Barrels of Oil Deposits?

    The analysis and research of Oil Depletion, Peak Oil, Global Warming, and Climate Change has been truly commendable by many dedicated researchers.

    The converging world issues of Fossil Fuel Depletion, Global Energy Supply, Global Food Supply, CO2 Emissions, Global Warming, Climate Change, Polar Ice Melting, Ocean Warming, Droughts, Water & Land Depletion, and Soil Erosion now require action in order to maintain our standard of living, or we will indeed face major economic consequences on a global scale.

    Politicians and governments work for the corporations, but the public survival as a nation is very questionable, when our Constitution and the Bill of Rights have been trashed. For detailed information of the above, please see my website: