Saudi Aramco is carrying out a major upgrade at Safaniyah, the world’s largest offshore field. Operations were unaffected by the incident, in which a barge with 27 workers on board sank while performing maintenance work, the company says. Safaniyah lies in the northern Gulf just south of the Neutral Zone which Saudi Arabia shares with Kuwait. Aramco gave no reason for the sinking of the barge, Arabia-4. The bodies of one Bangladeshi worker and two Indians were recovered the next day. The remaining 24 workers, some of whom sustained injuries, were evacuated. The company is investigating the cause of the incident, it adds.

State-owned giant Aramco launched a five-year capacity maintenance program in 2012, allocating $35bn for contracts to upgrade the Safaniyah, Abu Safah and Marjan fields as well as Ghawar, the world’s biggest oil field and contributor to nearly half of total Saudi oil production. Aramco is targeting higher recovery rates of up to 70% from existing fields while adding some 550,000 b/d of new capacity from the Shaybah and Khurais fields by 2017, though overall capacity is set to remain at 12.5mn b/d as some older reservoirs are given a rest. (CONTINUED - 588 WORDS)