Saudi Aramco presented its latest offshore technology solutions at this year’s Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, with a focus on complex gas development projects and research. Nabilah Al-Tunisi, chief engineer, Saudi Aramco, presented the scope and challenges of the Arabiyah and Hasbah offshore fields in the Arabian Gulf during a technical session. The fields are a major component of the Wasit Gas Program, which aims to increase the Kingdom’s gas production capacity to meet growing electric power demands domestically. Offshore Challenges The non-associated gas project presented Al-Tunisi’s team with various challenges. “We found we were unique with such high pressure, high temperature gas,” she said. “There was no industry reference so there was a lot of learning and lessons to be shared.” Among these challenges was introducing a big bore or ‘super wellhead’ capable of producing up to 350 million standard cubic feet per day; installing offshore composite subsea power cables and gas trunk lines capable of handling high pressure and high temperatures; and the application of special coating for pipes and valves to prevent corrosion. Instead of a traditional flare system, a high integrity protection system (HIPS) was designed in response to the high pressures. The system took two years to develop, and was guided by a specially created HIPS steering committee and team of valve specialists. The three-year capital program required multiple procurement locations and expeditors around the world — Europe, Asia and within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During the peak offshore installation phase, more than 70 types of specialty vessels, from heavy lift, pipe laying to barges, were employed to accomplish the task. Learning about R&D The exhibition was a hub for professionals to learn about the company’s R&D activities. It is estimated that 250-300 young petroleum geologists are hired by Saudi Aramco each year. The Upstream Professional Development Center (UPDC) showcased the customized curriculum and state-of-the-art facility that they are trained at. The Aramco Research Center-Houston, the largest of Aramco’s three new U.S.-based R&D centers, focuses on upstream energy research in exploration, drilling, field development, and production management. The Sensors Development Team, led by Max Deffenbaugh, presented their work on accelerated development of critical sensor systems that are used to monitor a well’s production and increase recovery. Martin Poitzsch, senior Petroleum Engineering consultant at the Aramco Research Center-Boston took oil and gas traditionalists into new territory by showing how nano-based materials are being applied for reservoir surveillance and stimulation. Promising energy startups Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) looks to invest globally in early stage, high-growth companies with technologies of strategic importance. SAEV representatives were on hand to meet with companies that have identified, or are beginning to develop promising technologies with applications in conventional and unconventional exploration challenges. Last year SAEV invested in software for wearable devices for the energy industry. Wearable Intelligence offers practical, secure, hands-free wearable computing devices that impact operational efficiency from the rig to the refinery, safely.