Following the Iranian Revolution in 1979 demand of oil from Saudi Arabia fell from ten million barrels per day (bpd) to three million bpd. As a result of the reduced production many small oil wells were closed down, including the Dammam oil field, home to Saudi Arabia’s oldest wells. Sadad al- Husseini, once the executive vice president for exploration and development at Saudi Aramco, said that, “we simply didn’t need small fields like Dammam, and in fact shut in fully or partially many other fields including Khurais, Khursaniya, Qatif, Abu Hadriya, Harmaliyah and several others.”
Currently oil demand is at high levels once more and due to supply fears from Iran countries are always looking to increase their output. Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, has recently announced its intentions to re-open the Dammam field after 30 years, according to an EIU report. Husseini said that “the Dammam field can operate easily with current technology and Saudi Aramco conducted a 3-D seismic survey over the entire area almost 10 years ago,” which leads them to believe that it still holds as much as 500 million barrels of heavy crude oil and will increase their production by 100,000 bpd.
In the 30 years since its closure the Dammam area has changed vastly and is now surrounded by metropolitan areas, which could make drilling for oil a very difficult challenge, and one that will receive much protest and opposition by local residents. However Husseini has assured that Saudi Aramco will proceed “in the most modern, environmentally sensitive and professional manner that least affects the adjacent community.”
Aramco is also undertaking a project to increase production of heavy crude at the world’s fifth largest oil field, the Manifa field in the Persian Gulf, in order to maintain total oil production levels at 12 million bpd.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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