Aramco Targets 13 Million b/d Capacity by 2027

Copyright © 2021 Energy Intelligence Group

Saudi Aramco will continue to invest in the upstream sector and aims to deliver a gradual increase in oil production capacity of 1 million barrels per day by 2027, the company’s top executive told the Energy Intelligence Forum 2021 on Monday.

Placing its bets on oil playing an ongoing, important role in the global energy mix in the future, state-controlled Aramco is pressing ahead with its plan to boost capacity to 13 million b/d from its current level of 12 million b/d.

“The increment [in capacity] will come from existing and new fields. There will be an emphasis on the offshore … it’s going to come in phases and the full capacity will come by 2027,” Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told Energy Intelligence in an exclusive interview during the forum, revealing the timeline for the target for the first time.

Early Engineering Works

Nasser added that Aramco is currently conducting front-end engineering and design (Feed) works on the project, which is expected to take about two years to complete and will be followed by construction works.

Energy Intelligence understands that the Saudi state may even direct Aramco to further expand capacity beyond 13 million b/d, but it is unclear when these instructions will be given.

The capacity hike is moving ahead at a time when major hydrocarbon producers such as Aramco are seeking to position themselves for a global energy system that is increasingly looking to decarbonize.

Aramco is betting that its low-cost, low-carbon resources will give it a natural advantage even as global demand for fossil fuels will inevitably decline.

In terms of future market balances, Nasser expressed concern over the lack of investment in the upstream sector and how that might lead to a mismatch between demand for affordable energy supplies in the future, reflected in today's gas shortage in Europe. Nasser said the resulting shift to substitute gas with oil has added some 500,000 b/d to global demand.

“Investments are prematurely cut in our industry … capital has become constrained. I’m worried that the worst is still coming and this doesn’t help an orderly transition,” said Nasser.

He highlighted that Aramco remained committed to developing cleaner fuels with lower carbon emissions that could help guide the pace of the energy transition, but at the same time not marginalize the need for energy to be affordable.

Gas Expansion on Track

Faced with global energy transition pressures and the need to free up more oil for exports, one of Aramco's priorities in recent years has been to find ways of boosting gas production for domestic use, such as in power generation and for industrial feedstock.

“The strategy is to eliminate liquid burning in the kingdom,” said Nasser, adding that Aramco was looking at the option of working with international investors as previously reported by Energy Intelligence in April.

“If it is beneficial and of value, we could certainly explore collaboration opportunities with a range of investors,” he added.

The kingdom might decide to open up its giant unconventional gas field Jafurah to outside investors to help it fund the project, on which it plans to spend around $110 billion, according to comments by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year.

Nasser said that Jafurah was due to start production in 2025 — a year behind the initial date announced — with initial output of around 200 million-300 million cubic feet per day.

The field's production is expected to eventually reach around 2 billion cubic feet per day by 2030 which is six years ahead of its original schedule, according to Nasser.

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