Saudi Aramco has confirmed plans to increase gas production from its Karan field by 50 per cent and develop two gas processing units, as well as two major sulphur recovery facilities.

The plans by the state-owned oil giant, which have been revealed to contractors, are likely to require a multi-billion-dollar investment programme.

They are part of a masterplan for the Karan and Manifa fields that will involve its Khursaniyah gas plant serving as the hub for gas supplies from both fields.

It comes at a time of rapidly rising demand for gas across the region and concerns over a potential shortage of supply. In Saudi Arabia alone, natural gas demand is expected to reach 14.5 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d) by 2030, from 5.5 billion cf/d at present.

The Karan field, which is thought to contain more than 9 trillion cubic feet of gas, was originally slated to produce 1 billion cf/d of gas, but this has now been raised to 1.5 billion cf/d.

Until now, it was not known if Aramco would process the gas at its existing facilities at Khursaniyah. However, the increase in gas production means additional facilities are required.

The construction of the facilities will be carried out on a lump-sum turnkey basis. Contractors have been instructed to solicit quotes from local Saudi firms for pipes, steel and other materials.

Japan’s Yokogawa Corporation has already been selected as the supplier for the plant’s process control system.

Aramco is to approve funding by July, with a contract award to be made the following month.

The Manifa plant upgrade will be completed by April 2011, with the Karan facilities due to be finished by July the same year.

Four production platforms are to be built at the offshore Karan field, along with a single tie-in platform.

The first gas processing train at Khursaniyah will handle the
1.5 billion cf/d from Karan. A second processing unit will handle 90 million cf/d of sour gas and 67,000 barrels a day (b/d) of sour condensate from Manifa.

Aramco is requesting that contractors submit bids for the gas processing facilities by 24 June.

Two separate sulphur recovery trains will be constructed to handle the supply from each field, as part of Aramco’s scheme to reduce the sulphur content of its output (MEED 28:3:08).

The masterplan comes at a sensitive time for the kingdom, with several large projects falling behind schedule. Plans to boost production at the Khursaniyah oil field by 500,000 b/d this month are unlikely to be met, according to contractors (MEED 7:3:08).

The US’ Foster Wheeler was awarded the joint front-end engineering and design, and project management consultancy contract on the onshore portion of the $10bn Karan gas field development last year (MEED 25:5:07).

Initial flows were reported at 80 million cf/d of associated gas and 1,400 b/d of condensate. Aramco has since revised these upwards.

Saudi Aramco was unavailable for comment.