Aramco and upstream, building on strengths

Through its leading position as an oil producer, Aramco continues to innovate core upstream processes with the potential to offer greater operational value.

One such challenge is to develop a cost-effective solution for providing reservoir data to engineers in real-time, in order to make faster decisions.

As a global enterprise, Aramco leveraged its Aberdeen Technology Office (ATO), specialising in upstream downhole tool technologies, for a solution that did not exist previously, as revealed by market studies. With knowledge inherited from nearby North Sea operations, Aberdeen's researchers worked hand in hand with field operations in Saudi Arabia to identify the technical and operational requirements for a potential solution. This resulted in ATO working with Aramco's corporate venturing arm, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV), who suggested one of its portfolio companies that works on a novel concept that could address field challenges.

With Aramco investment and technical support, portfolio company Target Intervention was able to introduce a downhole tool that provides high quality, real-time reservoir data, such as pressure and temperature, during Drilling Stem Tests (DSTs). This test is done while drilling, and can obtain pressure, permeability and productive capacity of a rock formation.

“The Integrated Well Testing Tool is an intelligent, surface controlled tool designed to be run on coiled tubing that allows exploration well testing, including stimulation to be performed in one run. The system is designed to optimise test quality through the display of real time bottom-hole data at surface. This facilitates the early conclusion of poor tests, or the extension of interesting ones. Selective stimulation of zones through repositioning of the string eliminates costly multiple runs into the well and removes the requirement for pre-planning flow test durations.”

Mike Affleck, Aramco drilling technologist, Aberdeen Technology Office
Graph above shows flow-period, shut-in period and a stimulation, followed by flow- and shut in period again on single perforation zone

Development of such a tool operating in a confined space is challenging. Therefore, full understanding of the problem, and a solution that meets engineering and operational standards is essential. The technology was tested across several wells, revealing considerable cost savings – over $1m from just two deployments, and a 50 percent reduction in rig time.

“Building a successful technology requires listening carefully to the customer’s needs. The team did impressive work with Target Intervention to build an advanced and effective tool that provides high quality reservoir data while surviving downhole harsh environment.”

Khalid Noaimi, Head of the Aberdeen Technology Office
Up close: the tool (OD – 3.5’’ and length – 41.5ft) ready for actual field trial, following manufacturing and performance qualification

In this time, the technology also received recognition through awards, most notably the Top Intervention Technology Award from Intervention & Coiled Tubing Association (ICoTA 2020), and conference publications from key institutions, such as the Society of Petroleum Engineers, a leading knowledge exchange for the upstream oil and gas community. Indeed, Aramco is active in academic circles, frequently publishing details on new technology and approaches as a thought leader, particularly in upstream technology. Contributing to discussions not only affirms its position in E&P but also allows for learnings in key areas, such as improving operational safety, as well as efficiency.

As for Target Intervention, the Norway based technology company describes itself as a specialist in downhole tool solutions for the oil and gas industry. Its aim is to develop the next generation of intelligent coiled tubing tool solutions, increasing overall recovery and productivity of wells.

Aramco upstream management visiting Target Intervention in 2018

The technology uses fully electric operated components that provide the ability to complete complex intervention operations faster and more effectively. The investment from Aramco Energy Ventures has supported further development and commercialisation of Target Intervention technologies especially though field trials.

“The joint development between Target Intervention and ATO of the Integrated Well Testing Tool addresses the much needed digital transformation in the Oil & Gas industry, and also provides a number of other strong value drivers for the end customer, such as greater speed and lower cost”, says Hans Middelthon of SAEV. “We have been investing in Target Intervention since 2015 and are very impressed with their achievements to date and their technical road map going forward”.

Around the world, Aramco continues to invest in technology innovation to enable the company's long-term viability and reinforce its global position in oil and gas by driving production efficiency and resilience. Technology innovation brings value to the company through making resources and products more accessible, useful, sustainable, and competitive. By creating impactful innovative solutions, Aramco makes a meaningful, positive contribution to major global energy issues for the benefit of the oil & gas business, and energy consumers around the world.