Saudi Aramco announced record crude oil production during 2016, while stating that its hydrocarbon reserves eased slightly from a year ago.
The world's top crude exporter’s state oil giant said daily crude production hit a new high of 10.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2016, up from 10.2 million bpd in 2015, according to its annual review released on Thursday.
Recoverable crude oil and condensate reserves, meanwhile, totalled 260.8 billion barrels at the end of 2016, easing from 261.1 billion in 2015.
Aramco's gas reserves rose to 298.7 trillion standard cubic feet in 2016 from 297.6 trillion standard cubic feet the year before.
“Driven by operational efficiency and fiscal discipline, we continued to build and deliver on our strategic goals in 2016 despite the backdrop of a challenging environment,” Amin H. Nasser, President and CEO of Saudi Aramco said. “The company crossed a threshold in its transformative journey to optimise its operations and maximise delivery across all of its capabilities. At the same time, we remained true to our commitments of value creation, technology delivery, and human capital development.”
During last year, Aramco discovered two new oil fields, Jubah and Sahaban, and one new gas field, Hadidah, all located in the Eastern Province, the main oil region in Saudi Arabia, taking the total number of fields to 130.
It added 250,000 barrels of crude oil production per day to its Shaybah facility where it also started a second natural gas liquids processing train; and reached full operational feed capacity of 2.5 Bscfd at the Wasit Gas Plant.
Aramco, the only company undertaking exploration in the kingdom, said oil exports rose to 7.6 million bpd in 2016 from 7.1 million bpd in 2015. Exports to Asia accounted for 66 percent, up from 65 percent in 2015, followed by exports to the United States, whose share dropped to 15.8 percent from 16.6 percent.
Raw gas processing capacity rose to 12 billion standard cubic feet per day (scfd), allowing output of sales gas or methane, used mainly for electricity and petrochemicals, to hit a record 8.3 billion scfd.
Ethane production, the favourite feedstock for petrochemicals, was also higher at 920 million scfd from 794 million scfd in 2015.
Saudi Aramco plans to double gas production to 23 billion scfd in a decade by including "unconventional gas" in the mix and by continuing to develop gas not associated with oil to help it limit the use of oil in power generation and provide feedstock to the petrochemical industry it is keen to grow.
It said over 40 percent of non-associated gas came from offshore fields Hasbah and Arabiyah.
Progress continued in unconventional gas, as the company completed wells in northern Saudi Arabia to deliver 55 million scfd of gas by the end of this year to industrial and electrical power facilities in the Wa'ad Al Shamal industrial city, a phosphate project run by Saudi mining firm Ma'aden.
The Midyan gas project in northwest Saudi Arabia, a region rich in iron ore deposits, is almost complete, Aramco said, while on the oil side, the expansion of Arab Light Khurais oilfield to 1.5 million bpd will be onstream by mid-2018.
Midyan was discovered in the 1980s and has significant reserves.
In the downstream sector, Saudi Aramco’s Sadara joint venture with The Dow Chemical Company, with a production capacity of 3 million tons of performance plastics, started commissioning of the region’s first mixed feed cracker; the Phase II Petro Rabigh ethane cracking project with Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical Co. achieved full operation; and the company's 400,000 bpd Jazan refinery reached 55 per cent completion.