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Saudi Aramco Unveils GigaPOWERS

Source: 1/26/2010, Location: Middle East

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The Saudi Aramco EXPEC Advanced Research Center debuted its giga-cell reservoir simulation technology, GigaPOWERS™, Jan. 23 in front of an overflowing audience in the EXPEC Auditorium.

GigaPOWERS™ is the second generation of Saudi Aramco’s leading reservoir simulator, POWERS (Parallel Oil, Water and Gas Enhanced Reservoir Simulator), which is used to simulate fluid movement in the reservoir to optimize production and injection, and the management of the reservoir.

GigaPOWERS™ sets a new industry record of being able to simulate giant fields at seismic or near-seismic resolution, thus doing away with the conventional industry practice of averaging the simulation model cells in order to reduce their number, which also reduces the amount of information in the model. It can simulate models in excess of one billion cells (“giga-cell”), producing a more accurate simulation. Just like a megapixel camera, in which a higher number of pixels (resolution) yields more accurate images, the higher number of cells in the simulation model leads to more accurate simulation of the reservoir.

“This is an exciting day for Saudi Aramco and a testimony of our success in providing cutting-edge technical solutions to manage our fields and reservoirs,” said Amin H. Nasser, senior vice president of Exploration and Producing, who kicked off the event with the live full-field simulation of the largest field in the world, Ghawar. “This cornerstone technology, GigaPOWERS™, allows us to more accurately simulate and predict the behavior of our fields and reservoirs and better optimize our production strategies.”

“This achievement celebrates the commitment and support received from Saudi Aramco management and the perseverance and strong teamwork of the CMT-POWERS members who have dedicated years to the success of this major technology development,” said Ali Dogru, chief technologist of the EXPEC ARC Computational Modeling Technology Team and the pioneer behind POWERS and today’s GigaPOWERS™. “The need to simulate the Saudi Arabian fields in their entirety presented an attractive challenge many years ago. The business need and resources to push the limits of computational power to the billion-cell model — and beyond — only existed at Saudi Aramco. Working at Saudi Aramco provided me with this unique opportunity to develop an industry-leading technology.”

Senior management, reservoir engineers and customers throughout the corporation gathered to witness the launch. The technology helps find solutions to challenges in new field development, deciding well locations, enhancing production optimization and much more.

“Business decisions made regarding reservoir development and management rely to a large extent on understanding the reservoir performance through the POWERS reservoir simulation,” said Mohammed Y. Al-Qahtani, executive director of Petroleum Engineering and Development, “and that available capability, with GigaPOWERS™, just became even stronger, moving an already superior product a substantial step higher.”

Dogru provided the audience with the history of CMT’s technology and illustrated how easily a user is able to navigate the simulator. Fatema H. Awami, supervisor of Reservoir Simulation Studies, performed user functions of the simulator in her live demonstration of the new Shaybah reservoir model.

CMT members then explained a variety of advanced capabilities, including the new interactive simulation environment, intelligent wells, unstructured methods and future plans.

“This completely in-house development journey has brought Saudi Aramco Reservoir Management a leading, high-impact simulation tool,” said Samer AlAshgar, EXPEC ARC manager, who hosted the event.

The first-generation POWERS Development Team began developing the simulator in 1994. The team has grown and has been breaking records ever since. By 2000, it broke the one-million-cell record. In 2002, the 10-million cell milestone was achieved with the first full-field simulation of Ghawar.

Then, about a year ago, the POWERS team broke through the one-billion-cell, or giga-cell threshold.

“Computational power is a challenge in many industries. Throughout the years, our work has been driving research in both industry and academia in the broader field of computational sciences which benefits humanity in global areas well beyond the petroleum industry,” said Dogru.

The live launch was a pivotal event in Saudi Aramco history. The fine scale of detail will now be applied to daily operations, benefiting the entire company, ensuring that the Kingdom’s hydrocarbon resources are carefully managed for generations to come.

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