Dawood Al Qassabi, Head of New Technology Implementation, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) spoke exclusively to Pipeline Magazine’s Julian Walker about the importance of technology for Oman’s national oil company
How important is technology for PDO?
Technology implementation is a key enabler in the company’s journey of cost control and unlocking production opportunities. Advances in technology mainly contribute to making things more efficient, and consequently faster and cheaper. Over 60 new technologies are being matured by the New Technology team with a trial success rate of over 90 per cent. Deploying new technologies after successful trials is being seamlessly progressed and achieving greater efficiency in PDO operations.
What areas are you most focused on?
Produced water management, flared gas recovery, energy efficiency and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) are the main focus areas of PDO.
On average, nine barrels of water are produced for every barrel of oil and so the disposal, treatment and back injection of this water are key challenges to manage and resolve. Therefore, PDO is actively working on executing a“3R-Pillar” strategy: Reduce, Reuse and Relocate. New technology is playing a vital role in realising this strategy. Water shut-off technologies (chemical or mechanical) at reservoir level are key to achieve the “Reduce” pillar, whereas treating the water for land disposal, steam generation and back-injection to the reservoir and for agricultural use is an essential requirement to make the “Reuse” pillar a success. The produced water quality and quantity vary across fields within PDO’s concession area and so it is important to map out and accordingly relocate the water based on each field’s requirements, as part of the efforts on the Relocate pillar.
As part of World Bank “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” initiative, which PDO endorsed in January 2017, we are aiming to implement economically viable solutions to eliminate routine flaring as soon as possible and ahead of the 2030 target. This ties in with PDO’s commitment towards gas conservation and environmental sustainability, in general, to reduce our environmental footprint and impact.
Most of the energy PDO is consuming is for water handling and the operation of artificial lift systems. In this regard, PDO is executing a number of technologies/tools/ initiatives to reduce power consumption and therefore to save gas. Permanent Magnetic Motors (PMMs) have been installed on artificial lift pumps and energy efficiency monitoring tools are now part of some production stations in PDO.
PDO has come a long way in maturing its 132 producing fields and has already passed the “easy oil” primary recovery stage. We are now at the secondary or even tertiary recovery stage in some fields. Most fields are under water flood and some are under thermal, chemical and/or miscible gas injection, which means higher unit development costs to operate, and this is where new technology can add great value in reducing cost and maximising recovery. Steam, polymer, alkaline surfactant polymer (ASP) and miscible gas are being injected in some PDO fields either on a full-field or pilot scale.
What are the most important technology innovations coming out for the oil and gas industry?
Some examples of key innovative technologies which PDO is using are: Pipeline inspection and tank cleaning using robotics, rig-less artificial lift systems, multilateral well stimulation, geared turbines for hard rock drilling, pit-less drilling to reduce environmental footprints, micro turbines for flare gas recovery, assisted evaporation for reject water management and de-oiling polymer-contaminated produced water as part of water management.
What technology will you be showcasing at ADIPEC?
PDO aims to address key business challenges. ADIPEC presents us with a valuable opportunity to network with start-ups and leading technology providers and professionals in the oil and gas industry who can address these challenges through new technology solutions. So, for example, we will highlight energy efficiency, well productivity and water management issues.
We will also be showcasing our Miraah solar energy plant, which we are currently building with our partners GlassPoint Solar in Amal. The 1,021 megawatt facility will produce steam for thermal EOR by harnessing the power of sun to heat water in a huge greenhouse complex. Once complete, it will save 5.6 trillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) of gas a year.
Another energy-saving technology we will spotlight is our multi award-winning Nimr Reed Beds project, which has enabled the company to treat massive volumes of oilfield produced water from our Nimr field efficiently and effectively. By avoiding the conventional, energy-intensive disposal method of pumping water into deep aquifers under high pressure, the scheme is forecast to save around 24 billion cubic feet of gas over 10 years – a 98 per cent saving.