A satellite-enabled peek at Saudi oil.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Tracks in the Sand

A bit over a year ago, Saudi Aramco announced two oil discoveries near the Ghawar oil field. From their 2007 Annual Review:

The first, Mabruk, struck on April 26, is the first discovery in the Hadriyah reservoir south of Ghawar.The Mabruk-1 well flowed 5,600 bpd of Arabian Heavy oil with 2 million standard cubic feet perday (scfd) of gas. Under normal production conditions, the well is expected to flow at a higher rate. The following day, on April 27, the Dirwazah field was discovered in the Unayzah reservoir. The Dirwazah-1 well flowed 5,569 bpd of Arabian Light oil with 2.8 million scfd of gas.

Mabruk and Dirwazah are reported to be 18 and 43 miles respectively to the southeast, but given the shape of Ghawar, that doesn't narrow it down much. I've looked through some recent low res images, but I haven't spotted anything yet.

However, there are some interesting traces of exploration efforts in an area to the southwest shown indicated by the red placemark the image at right. Shown below is a closer view of what appears to be a drilling site for oil, although it could be for gas as well.

There are gas wells in the area, including one down the road to the east (below). The well seems to have been put in between when the low-res and high-res images were taken. The latter dates to Feb. 2007. This one seems to be functional, given the fence visible around the wellhead area.

In contrast, a gas well directly to the west appears to be unconnected:

Note the craters seemingly scattered around the well site. There are similar features scattered across this area, particularly along roads. You can find the ones below by following the road from the first well site above to the northwest.

These are likely made by seismic teams looking for hydrocarbons, probably including shallow wells drilled to get subsurface readings. There are lots of misses in Saudi Arabia, but these are obviously not lauded with names such as Mabruk -- which means "congratulations" in Arabic. I wonder what the Arabic for "#&#*!" is?

Finally, to the south, there is another one of those strange compounds that I first pointed to in Khurais Me A River.

There are gas wells (not functional) nearby. The local encampment of an exploration team, perhaps?

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