US energy firm GE has been awarded a $500m contract by state upstream operator Saudi Aramco to supply equipment for the expansion of oil and natural gas processing facilities at Shaybah in the south east of the kingdom.

The project includes supplying services to enhance Saudi Aramco’s oil recovery services from its most remote field, located in the empty quarter (Rub al-Khali). This will also include supplying 11 gas turbine generators and 44 compressors to generate an extra 729 megawatts (MW) of power, according to a 14 December company release.

The new expansion is expected to increase Arabian Extra Light crude production at the field to 1 million barrels a day (b/d) from 750,000 b/d and increase the gas-oil ratio (GOR) of the field from 1,800 cubic feet a barrel (cf/b) to 7,200 cf/b . Equipment will be delivered by the first half of 2012 and training will be provided through the GE Energy Manufacturing Technology Centre in Dammam.

Aramco’s Shaybah field expansion also includes the construction of a new natural gas liquids (NGL) recovery plant at Sabkha, which will process 2.4 billion cubic feet a day (cf/d) of low-sulphur gas and extract 264,000 b/d of NGL.

According to Saudi Aramco, the Shaybah field holds 14.3 billion barrels of crude oil reserves and 25 trillion cubic feet of associated gas. The company first announced plans to develop gas plants at Shaybah in July 2009. A standalone gas plant and six NGL recovery trains will be built in four phases between 2014 and 2033 (MEED 3:7:09).