Saudi Arabia has the second largest oil reserves in the world, so it is quite logical that there are several successful oil companies in this country. One of them is Saudi Aramco or simply Aramco. With a revenue of around $380 billion and value between $2 trillion and $10 trillion, Saudi Aramco is the most valuable company in the world.

One of the reasons why this company is always on top is their investment in research and development of new oilfields. Manifa oilfield is one of these new oilfields that have proven to be a great investment.

Basic information

Manifa oilfield is located on a manmade island. Thanks to modern technology, engineers and architects can create artificial islands and make the production of oil much easier and simpler. Of course, in order for such manmade island to promise a good return on investment, it must be situated in shallow waters. Otherwise, it will need a lot of material to build it. At the same time, these manmade islands guarantee the improvement of long-term reservoir recovery. In addition, oilfields built on manmade islands allow the creation of more wells, don’t have negative environmental effects and it is much safer for the workers to work on an oilfield like this.

In the beginning, this project was known as the Manifa Arabian heavy crude program. Although this is an investment of Aramco, the authorities gave their support because it was part of the plan for the development of new Saudi oilfields that have allowed Saudi Arabia to boost oil production. It is estimated that the maximum capacity for oil production in Saudi Arabia is about 12.5 million barrels and Manifa provides a great contribution.

It is interesting that Manifa was discovered back in 1957 and the authorities have made basic preparation for oil exploitation, but the project was frozen because the crude had high quality. 40 years later, Saudi Aramco has started making plans for the so-called Manifa project. In 2007 the FEED (front-end engineering and design) was completed. Obviously, the investor was interested in completing this project as soon as possible, but although the initial construction project was signed by the end of 2007 and it was expected that the process of construction will start in the first months of 2008, there were some technical issues that postponed the start of this project. After two years of the planned start, in the first months of 2010, construction workers have started working on the Manifa oilfield.

This time, even though the production was planned for later, it started earlier in April 2013.  In July 2013, the oilfield produced about 500.000 barrels a day. Today, it produces 900.000 bpd of crude oil. The cost of this project is estimated at about $10 billion

Additional information

Manifa oilfield is one of the largest oilfields in the world today. In addition to its ability to produce about 900.000 bpd of heavy crude oil with high quality, the Manifa project is known for its production of sour gas, gas condensate, and water.

Crude stabilization units, separation facility, and additional separators are the components that make the processing infrastructure in this place. In the near future, it is expected for the Khursaniyah gas facility to be expanded in order to meet the needs for sour gas processing which are about 120 million cubic feet per day.

Manifa has four well-developed offshore and onshore pipeline networks and a top-notch supply system. This sophisticated water supply system allows Saudi Aramco to inject more than 1.3 million barrels of aquifer water in an oil reservoir per day in order to keep the needed pressure for getting the most from the production of crude oil. The majority of heavy oil is shipped directly to a new refinery located in Yanbu. This refinery makes oil low on sulfur for the US companies. Manifa includes more than 400 drilling islands, more than 10 offshore platforms and 15 onshore drill locations, injections facilities, water supply wells, numerous pipelines and heat, and electricity plant with a capacity of 420 MW. There is no doubt that this is one of the most advanced facilities dedicated to oil production (and more).

The construction process

Back in 2006, Foster Wheeler signed the contract for the FEED. They were supposed to take care of the FEED for the main processing facility, delivering long lead equipment, detail design, FEED development coordination and construction, procurement and engineering phase development. A few months later in January 2008, the Belgian contractor Jan de Nul signed a $1 billion-worth contract for the offshore component of this project. They have also created the causeway which is about 41 km long. This structure connects the coastal area with the offshore platforms. There is a total of six bridges about 4 km long too.

Safety and environment

According to the construction companies and many environment groups, the Manifa oilfield has very low impact on the environment. This oilfield is neat and built from natural elements like sand. There are no enormous steel structures which are usually inserted in the seabed and often cause ecological problems.

Several studies have confirmed that the construction of offshore manmade islands doesn’t affect the environment at least not significantly. Although the pipelines close to the islands may create additional risk, these pipelines at Manifa were stabilized with additional concrete mattresses making this oilfield very safe. In addition, we should not forget that it case something happens to some of the facilities, workers can safely exit the structure and stay on land or use boats to escape. Finally, manmade islands don’t need to be deconstructed when oil exploitation stops.

Final thoughts

Manifa oilfield was introduced in the moments when Saudi Arabia’s capacity to export oil was reduced. This is the last of the giant oilfields in Saudi Arabia. Today, it can produce 900.000 barrels per day which are more than 5% of the total production of oil in Saudi Arabia. This project worth $17 billion has shown that oil production doesn’t have to be risky for the environment and dangerous for the workers