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Saudi oil capacity plans advance with offshore deal

Dubai — Saudi Aramco has awarded Baker Hughes a major services contract to boost crude oil production from Saudi Arabia's offshore Marjan oil field.

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Baker Hughes will start drilling work this month to help increase production capacity from the 500,000 b/d field, Aramco said in a statement Tuesday.

The services include drilling, along with coiled tubing and drilling fluid engineering services for the field, the statement said.

Marjan, which lies off Saudi Arabia's eastern coast in the Persian Gulf, is the first of three major offshore expansions in a wider plan to raise offshore production at the 800,000 b/d Zuluf and 200,000 b/d Berri fields.

Adding another 1 million b/d by 2023 of capacity from the three fields will help offset reduced output from older fields. Although it holds the world's largest proven reserves, estimated to be above 260 billion barrels, many of Saudi Arabia's most productive fields have been operating for decades.

"The Marjan oil field is one of the major upstream developments this year that will contribute to the kingdom's oil production strengths, helping maintain capacity and meet domestic and global demand," according to Mohammed al-Qahtani, Aramco's senior vice president of upstream.

Saudi Arabia maintains around 1.7 million b/d of spare production capacity based on its 10.63 million b/d output in July, according to the latest S&P Global Platts survey of OPEC producers.

--Adal Mirza,

--Edited by James Leech,