The company is currently expanding its production, processing and transport infrastructure to allow for a 12 million b/d capacity which includes a commitment to maintain 1.5 million to 2 million b/d of spare production capacity.
At the end of 2004, Crown Prince Abdullah inaugurated Saudi Aramco's Qatif project, north of Dhahran. This has increased production capacity by 800,000 b/d. Some 500,000 barrels derives from onshore extraction and 300,000 barrels from the offshore Abu Safah field which is part of the Qatif production project.
Increased production capacity has been helped by completion of other recent projects in the South Riyadh oilfield, Shaybah, as well as Qatif. A project in the Haradh field to produce another 300,000 b/d will be completed in 2006 while 500,000 b/d is expected to come on stream from field developments at Abu Hadriya, Fadhili and Khursaniyah in 2007. New production at the Khurais field north of Saudi Aramco's principal Ghawar field will increase output there to 1.9 million b/d by 2009.
200 billion barrels more
According to Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi: 'There are great opportunities to increase the Kingdom's producible oil reserve by about 200 billion barrels either through new discoveries or increasing the percentage of extractable oil from known reserves.'
Saudi Aramco says it has a conservative approach to reservoir estimates and depletes its reverses at a far slower rate than major oil companies a policy which is designed to provide a healthy cushion between its production and its maximum sustainable capacity.
Dr. Nansen Saleri, Saudi Aramco's oil reservoir manager has said that Saudi Aramco's production capacity can easily be increased to sustainable rates of 12 million to 15 million barrels-a-day if global markets demand the extra crude.
With 27.62% of the world's proven oil reserves, Saudi Arabia possesses the lion's share of all the oil producing countries crude according to BP's latest annual statistical survey.
About 130 billion barrels of this is developed and mostly in production. Saudi Aramco's plans call for the replacement of 15 billion barrels of reserves from 2005 to 2009 at a rate of about 3 billion barrels a year.
'We believe very confidently that we are looking very conservatively upwards of 150 billion barrels over and above the 260 billion barrels that we carry as proven reserves right now. That is 60% more and that's the underlying message we want to convey,' Dr Saleri told the Centre for Strategic and International Studies last year.
Saudi Aramco considers that the huge acreage in Saudi Arabia's Rub al-Khali Empty Quarter desert region in the south-east offers big potential for new oil finds as well as the northern basin towards the northern border as well as the offshore Red Sea basin.