Haradh Gas Plant projects

Saudi Arabian Oil Company


The Haradh Gas Program was a giant grass-roots energy project, which was built in a remote region of the Saudi Arabian desert, constructed by 12,000 men all living in temporary accommodations. The plant came to life in April 2003 when the first sweet gas train went on stream. By June 2003 Haradh was fully on line. The project was originally scheduled for 37 months but was completed in 31 months, six months ahead of schedule and 27% under budget, exceeding all Company Quality Standards and recorded an amazing 49 million construction man-hours without a lost workday incident. This safety performance was the best in Saudi Aramco's 71-year-history and a record for the Gulf region. The major factors behind the success of the program were the dedication and commitment of the Haradh team and the great leadership at all levels.

The Haradh Program has accomplished several related objectives, which specifically accelerated the development of Saudi Aramco's resources of non-associated gas and the release of major quantities of oil for export. Saudi Arabia is substituting natural gas as the primary fuel for a number of local industries, including the Kingdom's national electric company's power generating plants, which are a major consumer of fuel oil.


The Haradh Gas Program had a total value in excess of $2 billion and consisted of five elements for gathering, processing, and distributing sweet, dry sales gas, high voltage power and residential facilities.

Program elements covered most of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and extended to the country's Central Region to supply customers in the Riyadh Area.

The first element encompassed field development, drilling and construction of associated surface facilities for 87 non-associated gas wells in South Ghawar and nearby related fields. These wells were connected by manifolds and 680 kilometers (km) of pipelines that gathered and provided the required feedstock to the grass roots gas plant at Haradh.

The second element was the Haradh Gas Plant, the second gas plant in Saudi Arabia designed to process nonassociated gas only. It has a design capacity of 1.6 billion standard cubic feet per day (SCFD) of combined raw feed of sweet and sour gas to deliver 1.5 billion SCFD of dry sweet gas to Saudi Arabia's Master Gas System. The plant consists of two gas-sweetening and three sulfur-recovery trains, two condensate stabilizers, two sour-water strippers and four gas-processing trains of gas dehydration, dew-point control and sales-gas compression. The plant recovers 170,000 barrels per day of hydrocarbon condensate and a by-product of 90 metric tons per day of sulfur.

The third element was the expansion of the Sales Gas Network and its extension to the Central Region. Major tasks were the installation of 395 kilometers (km) of 42” to 56” cross-country pipelines in the Eastern Region and from the East/West Pipeline Pumpstation-1 to East/West Pipeline Pumpstation-2 and 3. This element also covered 230 km of hydrocarbon condensate pipelines.

The fourth element consisted of building a 1,000 man residential complex and support facilities, with a Boeing 737-qualified airstrip, 8,000 feet in length, with day and night operations and a core maintenance complex of 32,000 square meters of office and workshop space. The residential complex, built to house plant operational and contractor personnel, provided an oasis-type environment in this remote desert location.

The fifth and last element was the supply of high voltage power, which provided for the expansion of the Saudi Electric Company (SEC) East Power Supply System to support the Haradh Area Crude and Gas facilities. 380kV, 110 km-long transmission lines and 100 km of 230kV of dual transmission lines were built. The Haradh 230 kV switchyard also contains 230/69 kV dual transformers feeding the remote gas producing fields, and four 230/13.8 kV transformers feeding the two Main Substations within in the Haradh Gas Plant.

Permanent communication was an integral part of the work scope, which tied all of the above elements together and to the outside world in an integrated network. It involved providing all types of Saudi Aramco communications services, including voice, data and special circuits utilizing five communication towers, conduit and cable systems, 310 km single mode Fiber Optic Cable (FOC), and other related facilities.

Design Basis

The design basis parameters for the Haradh Gas Plant were as follows:

  • 50% Shutdown criteria-risk assessment - designed so that “a single incident” would not cause the loss of more than 50% of the plant's capacity.
  • Power Supply and 230kV switchyard and downstream substations - The 230kV switchyard has several circuit breakers arranged in what is referred to as a breaker-and a half scheme. The arrangement offers a more reliable power supply to the main substations and 69kV switchyard, by making power available from two directions at any time.
  • Gas Treating, Acid Gas Handling & Sulfur Recovery - Due to a low and wide range of H2S concentration in the gas feed,, the selective absorption agent Methyldiethanolamine (MDEA) has been successfully implemented for the first time in Saudi Arabia. Using MDEA in Haradh Gas Plant design gave Saudi Aramco an advantage of treating the sour gas and to meet the sales gas specification at a lower operating and capital cost.
  • High-pressure flare & employing HIPS in the flare design - Haradh Gas Plant is the first gas plant in the company to implement the design concept of High Integrity Protection System (HIPS). Using HIPS has significantly reduced the size of the High Pressure and Low Pressure Flare Systems and cost while maintaining a high level of safe and reliable operation.
  • BTX (Benzene, Toluene, and P-xylene) Handling & Environmental Protection - Haradh Gas Plant is the first gas plant in the company, designed to achieve a full destruction of BTX and other environmental contaminants resulting from various plant processes. The plant is unique in dedicating a well-designed Hydrocarbon Thermal Oxidizer (HTO) to handle all waste gases that contain a high level of BTX and other contaminants. The HTO is designed to operate at high temperature and enough residence time to achieve the desired full destruction of all contaminants.
  • Nitrogen - Haradh Gas Plant has its own nitrogen system, which consists of two packages, namely nitrogen generation and liquid nitrogen storage with vaporization as a backup.
  • Sales Gas Compression, Heat Recovery & Hot Oil - Haradh Gas Plant Sales Gas Compression is comprised of four identical compression trains. Each train consists of a sales gas compressor and a 43,000 Horsepower combustion gas turbine driver. Each gas compression train also has a Heat Recovery Oil Heater, which uses the turbine exhaust gas to heat oil. Hot oil is distributed to exchange heat in the reboilers throughout the gas plant processes, eliminating the need for steam generation.
  • Firewater piping material - The firewater system at Haradh Gas Plant was designed “from scratch” with Reinforced Thermosetting Resin (RTR) materials. No underground cement lines or steel piping to corrode and no cathodic protection system for the firewater piping were required.
  • No underground hydrocarbon piping – Haradh Gas Plant incorporated the concept of “no buried process lines within the plant” except where the lines go under the plant security fence.

Project Execution Strategy

The Haradh Gas Program was executed as a typical Saudi Aramco project, in the following phases:

  • Design Basis Documentation.
  • Front-end Engineering.
  • Detailed Design and Procurement.
  • Construction.
  • Commissioning and Startup.

The execution plan was schedule-driven and was based on:

  • Application of recognized project management processes.
  • Application of selected Construction Industry Institute concepts.
  • Substitution of long lead items.
  • Consolidation of pre-commissioning/commissioning activities.

Baseline schedule was very stringent and incorporated data from the recently completed projects and was constantly monitored and improved throughout the execution phase of the project.


The Haradh Gas Program was divided into five major Lump Sum Turn Key (LSTK) contract packages with additional contracts awarded for site preparation and construction communication. Separate LSTK contracts were issued for Haradh Camp and pipeline work. The contractors involved in the project were the following:

Scope of Work Contractor Geographic Office Location
Site Preparation Al-Khodari & Sons Co. Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia
Gas Processing Facilities JGC Corporation Yokohama, Japan
Utilities & Offsite Technip Rome, Italy
Industrial Support Facilities Saudi Constructioneers Est. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Plant Communications General Dynamics Chantilly, Virginia, USA
Haradh Downstream Pipelines Technip SA Ltd. Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia
Haradh Upstream Pipelines Suedrohrbau SA Ltd. Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia
High Voltage Power Middle East Engineering Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia
Haradh Camp Joannou & Paraskevaides Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

This chart illustrates the worldwide procurement effort required for the Haradh Gas Program. Over 44% of the materials and equipment was provided by local manufacturers and local vendors in Saudi Arabia (Exhibit 1).

Material Analysis Report

Exhibit 1 - Material Analysis Report

This chart represents two diverging aspects of the issue of globalization. First, the 44% represents the tremendous gains that Saudi Arabia has made in developing the manufacturing and transportation capabilities to be competitive in quality and price for both bulk materials and engineered equipment; both for commodities manufactured or fabricated in-Kingdom and those acquired from out-of-Kingdom sources and supplied to contractors.

Second, it also shows that the majority of equipment and materials must be procured in other countries and imported into Saudi Arabia with the inherent difficulties and risks in such enterprises.

Each Saudi Aramco project has a goal to further reduce the company's dependency on the worldwide market by supporting local entrepreneurs in developing and expanding their capabilities to produce and support the equipment and materials needed for its projects.

Project Time/Schedule Management

Priorities for the Haradh Program were safety, quality, schedule, and cost. With this guidance, the project team was always alert to schedule optimization opportunities consistent with safety and quality objectives, and this goal was constantly considered in all decisions. The prime focus was on preventing problems and on early identification of concerns and weak spots in the schedule in order to have a work-around or contingency plan in place to implement, if needed.

An example of this approach was innovative ideas of Project Control System (PCS) which allowed early completion of all Site Acceptance Tests (SAT) and high success rate in loops completion and acceptance. The PCS always comes at the tale-end of the process design and places itself on the critical path of every project. Mitigating the challenge, a detailed implementation plan was developed and continuously validated starting from the initial phase of the project. The successful implementation of the plan, three months ahead of schedule, resulted in completion of all SATs and a high success rate in the loops' completion and acceptance.

Another example was the consolidation, wherever possible, of pre-commissioning and commissioning activities to minimize the time lag between mechanical completion and startup of the facilities. The technique required the full cooperation and support of all stakeholders and was an outstanding example of this high performance team in action.

Summary Schedule

Exhibit 2 - Summary Schedule

The Haradh Gas Plant was originally scheduled for 37 months duration from December of 2000 to onstream in December 2003. During the contract award phase, this schedule was compressed to 34 months. The actual work was completed in 31 months, a full six months ahead of schedule (Exhibit 2).

This achievement was made possible by two major efforts. In the first effort, fast tracking was particularly effective in reducing the window from the start of detail design to the start of construction. Bidders were advised in the bid documents that Saudi Aramco intended to start construction of the permanent facilities within seven months of the start of design. Successful bidders were those who could demonstrate the capability to deliver engineering drawings and materials to support this aggressive start date. Another aspect was the early completion of the site preparation, construction communication and access roads as a separate project so the main LSTK contractors after mobilization could start work on the process facilities without time consuming civil site preparation work.

An essential ingredient for fast tracking was the procurement of critical equipment during front-end engineering. Saudi Aramco completed the initial phases of the procurement cycle to the point of issuing purchase orders to vendors covering engineering and material option with commitments to price and ex-works dates. This information was included in the bid packages to enable bidders to factor in the pre-selection of these vendors in their bids. Successful contractors were required to assume full responsibility of these purchase orders at contract signing and to take up the material option within three days after contract signing.

Sales gas compressors, high voltage transformers, and Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants were identified as schedule critical and purchased early to expedite fabrication and ensure delivery within the targeted project schedule.

Through the diligent application of consolidating pre-commissioning and commissioning activities to minimize the lag time between mechanical completion and startup of the facilities, the Haradh Team of contractors and Saudi Aramco employees/engineers saved an additional four to six weeks on the completion and start-up of the first processing train, which was instrumental in achieving the overall objective of full on-stream six months ahead of schedule. The following are the milestones met by the Haradh Gas Plant:

  • Awarded LSTK Contracts – December 2000.
  • Completed Design Verification – April 2001.
  • Placed Major Equipment & Piping Purchase Orders – June 2001.
  • Started Construction – May 2001.
  • Energized Main Electrical Substations – July & August 2002.
  • Started Commissioning Utilities – December 2002.
  • Completed Energization of All Area Substations – January 2003.
  • Completed Control Room & Process Interface Buildings (PIBs) – January 2003.
  • Completed Flare and Fuel Gas System – March 2003.
  • Completed Hot Oil System – April 2003.
  • Started Processing Feed Gas – April 2003.
  • Completed All Remaining Facilities – June 2003.
  • Achieved Total Gas On-stream Date – June 2003.

The plant began producing sales gas in April 2003 when the first train went in to operation. By the year-end, the plant was processing 1.6 Billion SCFD of feed and producing 170,000 barrels per day of condensate.

Program Magnitude

The following list summarizes the number and type of major facilities constructed for the Haradh Gas Program:

  • Two (2) main and thirteen (13) “area” electrical substations.
  • Complete utilities plant, including five air compressors, a full reverse osmosis system, hot oil system with waste heat recovery and other water and air systems.
  • Inlet and auxiliary facilities including fin fan coolers, four slug catchers with separators and two trains of sour water strippers and condensate stabilizers.
  • One liquid surge sphere and one propane storage tank.
  • Four gas processing and compression modules.
  • Automated process control system of 22,000 I/O points distributed over ten risk areas located in five process interface buildings.
  • An extensive network of 755 km of 18 to 56 inch of upstream and downstream pipelines and manifolds.
  • A 1,000 man Haradh Residential Camp with Boeing 737 airstrip.
  • 310 km of fiber optic backbone network.

The program required enormous quantities of human and material resources as shown by the following tables:

Major Quantities Work-hours
  • 100,000 cubic meters of concrete.
  • 22,000 tons of structural steel.
  • 410,000 welded joints.
  • 4,300 km of cabling.
  • 540 km of plant pipeline.
  • 1,400 items of engineered equipment.
  • 4,900,000 cubic meters of earthwork.
  • 330,000 square meters of paving.
  • Front End Engineering: 600,000.
  • Detailed Design: 2,500,000.
  • Construction: 51,000,000.

Projects at remote locations must, by necessity, create a temporary “city.” The construction labor assembled to undertake this massive effort peaked at over 12,000 personnel of 36 different nationalities. This huge multi-national workforce essentially created a township, although short-lived, at the Haradh Gas Plant job site with its own extensive industrial, residential and recreational facilities.

An important measure of the success of the teamwork and cooperative spirit of the Saudi Aramco/contractor/vendor team was the harmonious working relationships maintained throughout the years this multi-cultural workforce was resident at the site.

Environmental, Safety, and Health (ESH)

The Haradh Project's ESH philosophy and its charter goal of Zero Accidents were developed and supported by the Project Management Team members committed to:

  • Protect all jobsite personnel and the general public from potential injury and health exposure.
  • Protect the environment (air, land and water) from potential pollution.
  • Protect other Company assets, such as buildings and equipment.

While achieving zero accidents was narrowly missed, the project team remained committed to the program's ESH philosophy, and continued to pursue its goal of Zero Accidents. The Haradh Project totaled more than 51 million construction hours, of which the last 49 million man-hours were achieved without a lost workday incident.

Unique Challenges

A number of unique challenges were posed by the Haradh Gas Program:

  • Weather - Temperatures at the job site exceeded 52 degrees Centigrade (126 degrees Fahrenheit) during the summer months. Dehydration of personnel was a constant concern.
  • Location - The job site was located 10 km from the nearest paved road and a new road had to be constructed to allow access to the site. The remoteness of the site required that camp facilities for up to 12,000 personnel working on the site be constructed.
  • Interface Coordination - Interfaces are those points where two or more contractors meet to join their respective work scope for a facility, such as a piping network. Saudi Aramco successfully monitored and coordinated over 1,000 interface points on the Haradh Program and treated each as an area of risk.
  • Logistics - With a large number of contractors and vendors to coordinate, the remoteness of the site required constant attention to logistical control.
  • The largest vessel of the project was the slug catcher, weighing 460 tons, 20-feet diameter, 82-feet long which was transported by boat to the port of Dammam. From there it was transported 220 km using a 128-wheel trailer with a maximum speed of 10 km/h. The planning for the route of the slug catcher's transportation to the site began one year ahead of its arrival at the port in Dammam.
  • Globalization - Globalization was an integral part of the overall execution strategy of the Haradh Gas Program and was achieved through utilization of international contractors from four continents, vendors and suppliers from over 30 countries, and a construction work force at the job site comprising more than 36 nationalities.
  • Communications - The project team utilized a number of electronic communication tools to enhance the coordination of all of the worldwide entities. Besides the telephone, e-mail over the internet was essential in communicating between offices. The company web page was used to facilitate the transfer of company information such as standards and specifications. When practical, other tools, such as video-conferencing, were also employed.

    Construction Communications were provided to about 12,000 personnel working for 30 contractors and subcontractors. The services provided included: Microwave link, Telephone PABX switch, paging transmitter to extend company paging service, UHF mobile trunked radio, HF mobile radio, and a dedicated 64Kpbs circuit allowing direct connectivity..

  • Early Identification of Distributed Control System (DCS) Contractor - Due to the contracting strategy of utilizing a group of contractors for the Haradh Gas Plant, it was required that the control system vendor be identified to the LSTK contractors before bidding so that there would be assurance of having one control system for the plant.

    Company-approved control system vendors bid on a detailed scope of work and a qualified vendor was chosen. The vendor, its price, and the associated scope of work were provided to the LSTK contractors to incorporate in their scope of work and bid. Compiling the detailed scope of work early and identifying a qualified cost competitive control system vendor was challenging, but met the objective of providing one control system for the entire plant and assisted in meeting the project schedule.

  • Modularity - Due to the operational requirements of maintaining 50% plant operation, the plant was designed with four trains of operation of 400MM SCFD capacities. Further, due to the use of numerous contractors, the plants were modular in design to allow each contractor a specific area of design and construction.

Major Highlights

Haradh Gas Plant has met the energy demand of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by optimizing and improving the program completion date by six months, bringing in six months of early revenue.

The Haradh Team maintained a safe workplace. Fifty-one million work-hours were expended and the last forty-nine million work-hours were without a lost workday.

Emphasis on quality throughout the project facilitated timely and cost effective completion. Quality was not looked at as compromising cost and schedule but as facilitating an attitude of “get it right the first time.” Team members were encouraged to voice quality concerns as early as possible so resolution could be made in a timely manner thus avoiding cost and schedule impacts.

The Haradh Project Management Team comprised more than 90% Saudi Arabs. The plant operations staff was over 98% Saudi Arab. This augmented a goal of having as many Saudi Arabs as possible involved in the program.

The project team, comprised of company project and operations personnel, exhibited very effective teamwork by partnering with the contractors and other Saudi Aramco organizations. This team's high performance was instrumental in the success of the program.

The project utilized intranet-based databases for project status and tracking for mechanical completions and facility turnovers. The mechanical completion of this project was segregated into approximately 345 separate systems. Managing this many systems via an intranet-based database was the only way to keep tight control of completions.

Project Quality Index (PQI)

Exhibit 3 - Project Quality Index (PQI)

Independent Quality Evaluations were conducted by Saudi Aramco's Inspection organization. Project Quality Index (PQI) Ratings (Exhibit 3) in excess of 98% were consistently achieved by all the major contractors. The Project Quality Team had over 300 company and contractor personnel involved.

One of the biggest challenges was ensuring consistency of design among the LSTKs and the DCS contractor who were developing portions of the detailed design around the globe. Effective planning and coordination resulted in successful implementation of a common process control design. A key feature was the exchange of counterpart engineers who were resident at the LSTK and the DCS contractor offices during the detailed design.

Haradh, A Success Story

In conclusion, how was the Haradh Gas Program team able to accomplish this extraordinary achievement?

The success of the program was attributed to:

  • Strong integrated project team.
  • Optimized design.
  • Partnering with contractors.
  • Detailed planning.
  • Capitalized on lessons learned.
  • Implementation of CII best practices.
  • Push the envelope and innovate.
  • Management and support empowerment.

The Haradh Program was a successful mega-project, which is a pacesetter project for the industry, a world-class gas plant of the highest quality produced in the shortest time at the most economical cost that will support the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's energy demands in the years to come.

© 2004, Mohammed Sharief Qureshi, PE
Originally published as a part of 2004 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – Anaheim, California



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