Efficiency among energy abundance

Minimizing energy consumption.

Janet E. Pinheiro |

  • Saudi Aramco monitors the energy intensity of its oil and gas operations
  • Energy management program has saved 250,000 barrels per day since 2000
  • One of world’s largest oil and gas facilities achieved the company’s highest 2018 energy efficiency

Modern energy is an integral part of today's globalized economies and lifestyles, and the past two decades have seen hundreds of millions of people — especially in China and India — gain access to electricity. Energy is opportunity, and for the first time since the International Energy Agency (IEA) began quantifying the number of people without access to electricity, the number dropped to below 1 billion this year.

With the global population expected to increase by 2 billion over the next 25 years, the demand for crude oil and its innovative refined products is expected to continue growing. Crude oil, nature's precious resource and powerful energy source, is also the innovative basis for so many everyday products — agricultural chemicals, construction and household materials, clothing, and more.

Climate change is among the most significant challenges facing humanity, Saudi Aramco knows energy should never be wasted, and its consumption managed. For decades, we have reached out to energy efficient technologies and practices to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Saudi Aramco engineer Najma A. Alshakhs verifies the installation and functionality of motor control center breakers, and digital relays prior to energization.

When we began our Master Gas System in the 1970s, it represented a giant leap in Saudi Arabia's industrial development to harness the power of gas into the Kingdom's local energy mix, and allowed crude oil to be reserved for higher value uses.

Echoing the company's strategy for efficient and effective use of energy, Jamil J. Al-Bagawi, Saudi Aramco chief engineer, said: “We're committed to driving energy efficiency and addressing the global emissions challenge.

“We believe we are uniquely qualified to make effective contributions to the overall solution,” said Bagawi. “We monitor the energy intensity of our oil and gas operations.”

Energy intensity of Saudi Aramco In-Kingdom operated facilities (in kBtu, Thousand British thermal units)


19 years of energy efficiency

Saudi Aramco's energy management program began in 2000. The program has resulted in cumulative energy savings to date of 227,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil equivalent, which equates to 25.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) — the equivalent of 19% of the Kingdom's commitment to emission reduction by 2030.

The company has a corporate committee to drive the company's energy performance in both its industrial and nonindustrial facilities. With 163 energy initiatives implemented during 2018, significant energy efficiency was achieved, even exceeding the corporate energy intensity key performance indicator by 4.6% from its planned target.

Generating impressive company numbers

Saudi Aramco 2018 energy efficiency performance

barrels per day oil equivalent saved during 2018
barrels per day saved since 2000
million tons CO2 reduction during 2018
million tons CO2 reduction since 2000

Cogeneration, a fuel-efficient process producing steam and electric power at the same time, is a more efficient approach to energy generation than a traditional power plant. Saudi Aramco is utilizing cogeneration systems to help reduce its dependency on the national electricity grid, with the goal of ultimately reaching electrical power self-sufficiency for its operating plants.

Through cogeneration, the company has achieved more than 70% thermal efficiency. By utilizing the waste heat from our facilities, the company generates electricity to run its operations, while also lowering emissions and reducing our impact on the Kingdom's power grid.

Achieving the numbers has also involved significant effort. Some of the tactics behind the numbers include replacing 5,198 V8 car engines with V6 engines, converting 2,921 fuel tankers from steel to aluminum, replacing 467,000 light bulbs and 8,000 street lights with LEDs.

Department winner Khurais achieved the company’s highest energy efficiency scores through a variety of strategies, including an ISO 50001 certified energy management program.

Khurais records highest 2018 energy efficiency score

Situated 160 kilometers southeast of Riyadh, Khurais is one of the world's largest oil producing and processing facilities. Three oil fields — Khurais, Abu Jifan, and Mazalij — lie concealed deep beneath its rocky southern sands.

Khurais operates five oil trains that can produce 1.5 million bpd of Arabian Light crude oil, together with two Central Arabia facilities producing 0.125 million bpd of Arabian Super Light crude oil. In December 2018, the site received the ISO 50001:2011 energy management system certification from Bureau Veritas.

Achieving Saudi Aramco's highest 2018 energy efficiency scores was attained through a variety of sustained performance strategies. The result was a 14% annual power saving, and 10% fuel gas saving.

“We share key performance indicators and promote mutual engagement among our employees, which inspires a culture of value creation toward saving energy for the company, and for the environment,” explained Mohammed I. Al-Sowayigh, Khurais Producing manager.

We share key performance indicators and promote mutual engagement among our employees, which inspires a culture of value creation toward saving energy for the company, and for the environment.

Mohammed I. Al-Sowayigh, Khurais Producing manager

Loading for optimal performance

Khurais utilizes a performance monitoring tool developed in-house to ensure its energy performance is at the optimum level possible. The tool, which earned the Frost & Sullivan Manufacturing Leadership Award, can quantify the value of closing an energy efficiency performance gap, provide advice on closing gaps, and prioritize gap closure efforts.

As supply and demand drive the production capacity of processing facilities, keeping a train fully loaded with product is energy efficient so Khurais keeps its trains loaded at the optimum level.

“It is simple. If demand is lower, we may shut down one train, to ensure the other trains operate at full capacity,” said Khurais energy coordinator Kamarul Amminudin.

Khurais also maximizes wasted heat recovery from the gas turbines to run seawater injection pumps instead of emitting the heat to the atmosphere. The steam generated from the wasted heat serves as a main source of steam for the process, while the auxiliary boilers are used as a contingency for the intricate
processing steps to remove water and hydrogen sulfide from the crude products.

Other initiatives include optimizing the anti-surge set point in major compressors to avoid unnecessary recycling that wastes power, preheating boiler feed water to reduce fuel gas consumption from the auxiliary boiler, and deploying “advanced process controls” in the oil wells’ electric submersible pumps to minimize power consumption.