State-owned Saudi Aramco has started production at its Manifa oil field three months ahead of schedule, it announced on 15 April. It will ramp up production to 500,000 b/d by July and 900,000 b/d by end 2014. Its output will replace depletion at mature fields and will keep production capacity at 12.5mn b/d. Aramco plans for each of its capacity increases to be sustainable for 30 years. The project came in “well under the program’s approved budget,” Aramco said. It was budgeted for $15.75bn (MEES, 14 December 2009). It will provide heavy crude feedstock to two new 400,000 b/d complex refineries being built in Jubail and Yanbu’. The Satorp refinery in Jubail (Aramco 62.5%, Total 37.5%) will receive its first crude “in weeks,” Total CEO Christophe de Margerie told local media. Yanbu’ Aramco Sinopec Refining Company (Yasref), a joint venture with China’s Sinopec, is due to start up in 2014.

The Manifa field includes land rigs on 27 artificial islands linked by a total of 41km of causeways with a number of elevated bridges. It includes a 420mw heat and electricity plant. Other projects Aramco is bringing on stream are a combined 550,000 b/d addition at the Khurais and Shaybah fields by 2017 (MEES, 15 March). These are the first major upstream expansion announcements for over six years. The increments are a 300,000 b/d expansion at Khurais to 1.5mn b/d and a 250,000 b/d push to 1mn b/d at Shaybah. The expansion project at Khurais will be completed by 2016-17 and Shaybah by 2017. Saudi Aramco from 2004 to 2011 managed to deliver over 3mn b/d of gross additional crude production capacity (and more than 750,000 b/d of NGLs and significant gas volumes) in six major projects, of which only one, the 500,000 b/d Khursaniyah field, suffered significant delays. (CONTINUED - 291 WORDS)