While Middle East oil & gas companies explore new fields onshore and off, mature fields in the Arabian Gulf are benefiting from advanced recovery methods that have extended their production life. Nowhere is this truer than at the world’s largest offshore oilfields, Safaniya, Upper Zakum and Manifa. Based on information from industry reports, these fields have long sated the world’s thirst for MENA oil as energy demands continue to grow exponentially. Efficient, high-performance pumps will be the key technology in propelling these fields into a new era of recovery.

1. Safaniya (Saudi Arabia)

This oilfield (pictured on the cover) is about 265 kilometers north of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It was discovered in 1951, and pro​­duction started in 1957. Since then, it has remained the world’s largest discovered offshore oilfield. More than 600 wells produce up to 1.5 million barrels of crude oil per day. Reserves are estimated at 50 billion barrels, of which 36 billion appear to be recoverable. However, owner and operator Saudi Aramco is pushing to extend recovery at this decades-old oilfield, including the installation of 42 electric submersible pumps on seven existing platforms. These pumps are used in critical artificial lift operations.

2. Upper Zakum (UAE)

More than 80 kilometers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, the world’s second-largest offshore oilfield produces about 500,000 barrels per day. This oilfield is a joint venture among the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, who is majority owner and operator; ExxonMobil; and the Japan Oil Development Company. Ninety platforms, 450 wells and plans for several artificial production islands and other offshore structures are responsible for the field’s activity and expansion. The UZ750 construction project hopes to increase the field’s production by another 150,000 barrels per day.

3. Manifa (Saudi Arabia)

To the southeast of Safaniya lies the Manifa oilfield, the world’s third-largest offshore oilfield—also administered by Saudi Aramco. Production began in 1964 after the field’s initial discovery in 1957. The field operated at a daily capacity of 200,000 barrels before shutting down because of low demand for the field’s heavy crude. Activity restarted in 2007 with renewed investment, but delays set back construction contracts in the field until 2010. Finally, in 2013, production resumed, with 500,000 barrels per day in 2013 and 900,000 barrels per day planned by the end of this year. The investment includes more than 400 islands and 13 platforms.

Photos courtesy of Saudi Aramco