Driving high-impact solutions

Our energy efficiency efforts seek to reduce energy consumption at company facilities, design new facilities to be energy efficient, increase overall energy efficiency, and influence and promote energy efficiency at the national level.

A study conducted in 2017 and published in early 2018 in Nature Energy examined the well-to-refinery carbon intensity of all crude oil grades supplied to the Chinese market, including those imported or produced locally. In crude oil production and processing, carbon intensity is a measure of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing a barrel of oil from the well to the refinery. The study examined crude oil grades supplied from over 100 oil fields in 20 countries and concluded that Saudi Arabian crude oils have the lowest carbon intensity.

The low carbon intensity advantage of Saudi Arabian crude oil is a result of multiple factors, including our long-standing practices in well completion, reservoir management, and flare minimization. For example, technologies such as mobility geosteering, multilateral wells with smart completions, and peripheral water flooding, have led to low water production per barrel (or water cut) relative to the depletion stage of the reservoir, which directly translates to lower energy requirements to process and recycle water, and consequently reduces our greenhouse gas emissions in oil production and processing.

Growing non-fuel applications

We are pursuing non-fuel uses for crude oil to unlock greater value, create more economic opportunities, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We are collaborating with SABIC, the Saudi-based global chemicals company, on a crude oil to chemicals project. In 2017, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding to pursue the next phase. The project — the first between Saudi Aramco and SABIC, two of the largest economic entities in the Kingdom — is anticipated to process 400,000 bpd of crude oil to produce approximately 9 million tons of chemicals and base oils annually in addition to transport fuels.

Our own crude oil to chemicals technology program aims to expand petrochemicals manufacturing by eliminating intermediate refining steps and converting crude oil directly to chemicals. In 2017, we successfully piloted a thermal crude oil to chemicals technology (TC2C™) that resulted in higher chemicals yield than previously achievable. We also established a strategic partnership with leading technology providers, Chicago Bridge & Iron and Chevron Lummus Global, to de-risk and scale up this technology.

We continued to expand the use of innovative nonmetallic materials, including the deployment of more than 2,300 km of nonmetallic pipes, resulting in significant life cycle cost avoidance across company operations. Expanding applications for nonmetallic materials, including for the automotive, building and construction, packaging, and renewable energy sectors could create additional markets for our crude oil and enable potential opportunities for local manufacturers. 

CO2 Capture

Every day, we have the capability to capture and process 45 million standard cubic feet of CO2 at a plant in Hawiyah. The CO2 is then piped 85 km to the ‘Uthmaniyah oil field and injected into the oil reservoir, sequestering the gas while also helping to maintain pressure in the reservoir and recover more oil.
This pilot project, the first of its kind in the Middle East in both scale and operation, marks a major milestone in our long-standing commitment to protect the environment while sustainably and reliably delivering energy to the world.

Over the next few years, we will evaluate the demonstration project for potential future application at other facilities and oil fields in the Kingdom, and shared with others in the Middle East and worldwide — a testament to our aspirations to help solve global energy challenges, facilitate knowledge transfer and spur innovation. 

Conserving water resources

We continued to implement our water conservation strategy to conserve the Kingdom’s nonrenewable groundwater resources and serve as a role model for water conservation practices. We completed a slate of water conservation strategies, including using wastewater in a variety of applications, assessing conservation opportunities, implementing best practices, and promoting water conservation awareness. Significant savings were achieved at industrial facilities and in communities by applying best practices and water saving technologies. 

Advancing sustainable transport

In collaboration with engine technology developers and major automakers, we are advancing new engine and fuel technologies to reduce exhaust emissions and improve fuel economy — twin goals that help address the global climate challenge and contribute to continued mobility and economic growth.

A key research area for us is the development of efficient and affordable fuel engine systems that achieve high efficiencies with very low emissions. For example, our researchers are working on novel technologies that can use low octane gasoline fuels in light-duty vehicles, potentially achieving an estimated efficiency improvement of 25%.

Our octane on demand technology program, which uses two fuels to attain the necessary anti-knock quality, strives for an estimated efficiency improvement of 8% compared to gasoline engines. In 2017, we completed a vehicle demonstration at our Paris research center with a fully integrated octane on demand system that reduced CO2 emissions.

We are also seeing promising opportunities to significantly increase efficiency in heavy-duty vehicles. At our Detroit research center, we are developing and demonstrating efficient and affordable fuel engine systems that can use low octane gasoline fuels such as Gasoline Compression Ignition (GCI) technology with the potential to lower CO2 emissions.

Our carbon management programs help support our efforts to address climate challenges, contribute to global energy supply, and enable the sustainable growth of our business. To achieve these aspirations, we are investigating cost-effective and efficient low-carbon footprint technologies, including carbon capture, utilization, and storage, and improved energy efficiency and energy mix diversification. 

Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

Our intent to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while helping provide the energy the world needs is illustrated by our founding membership of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI). Together, the 10 OGCI members produce more than one-fifth of oil and gas globally, and our collective efforts have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a significant scale.

In 2016, the OGCI announced an investment of $1 billion over the next 10 years through OGCI Climate Investments to develop and accelerate the commercial deployment of innovative low emissions technologies. OGCI Climate Investments announced its first three investments in 2017. These investments deliver on the organization’s commitments to concrete action to spur the growth of promising low-emission technologies. The investments include:

  • A company that is developing innovative, high efficiency opposed piston engines with the potential to substantially reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by vehicles — a technology Saudi Aramco showcased at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in early 2018
  • A cement and concrete production company that uses CO2 to produce cement and cure concrete, with the potential to lower CO2 emissions in concrete production up to 70%, and water consumption by 80%
  • A project to design the first commercial scale gas power plant with carbon capture and storage capability.