Saudi Aramco's Ghawar field produces 1.2mbpd less than expected

Saudi Aramco's Ghawar field produces 1.2mbpd less than expected
Published: 3 April 2019 - 9:15 a.m.
By: Carla Sertin

Saudi Aramco's largest oilfield, Ghawar, has a production capacity of 3.8mn barrels per day (bpd), far less than the 5mbpd generally cited in the market, according to Bloomberg. In 2004, Aramco said that the field was producing more than 5mbpd, Bloomberg reported, and it is unclear why production has faltered at the field.

This information became available through a bond prospectus which also revealed Saudi Aramco to be the most profitable company in the world. This comes as Saudi Aramco intends to issue a $10bn bond to help finance its $69.1bn acquisition of the Public Investment Fund's 70% stake in Saudi chemicals giant SABIC.

Meanwhile, Khurais field can pump 1.45mbpd and Safaniyah, which is the world's largest offshore oilfield and is undergoing redevelopment, can pump 1.3mbpd.

Saudi Aramco's total production capacity sits at 12mbpd, and it generally caps its production at 10mbpd, leaving 1mn to 2mn bpd in reserve. This allows it to open the taps and profit when the market is tight. Bloomberg reports that this strategy brought in an extra $35.5bn in revenue between 2013 and 2018, and it costs the company $2bn per year to maintain the buffer.

Saudi Arabia has reserves of 226bn barrels, which would last for approximately 62 years if the nation pumps 10mbpd, or 52 years at maximum capacity.

While the kingdom's field have depletion rates of 1% to 2% per year, lower than expected, Saudi Aramco also said that more than 40% of its oil has been extracted.

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