Abqaiq (Arabic: بقيق "buqayq", meaning "father of the sand flies"), also Buqayq, is a Saudi Aramco camp in the interior of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, located in the desert 60 km southwest of the Dhahran-Dammam-Khobar metropolitan area. Built in the 1940s by ARAMCO (now Saudi Aramco), Abqaiq had a population of approximately 30,000 in 2005.

Oil processing

After crude products (oil, natural gas, water, sand, etc.) are processed by the GOSPs (Gas Oil Separation Plants), the sour oil (containing H2S, hydrogen sulphide) is sent by pipeline to Abqaiq. The Abqaiq site stabilizes the oil, then pumps it to Ras Tanura (where it is exported), or further refined at a domestic refinery. Abqaiq also has NGL (Natural Gas Liquids) plants that extract natural gas liquids (butane, propane, hexane, etc.) from the oil. These NGL's are stabilized by Abqaiq, then sent to other sites for further separation and purification.

Community and region

The Abqaiq resident's compound "(Aramco code: AB)" is one of four residential compounds built by Saudi Aramco, including Dhahran (the main administrative center), Ras Tanura (the main refinery and oil port), and Udhailiyah. It is located between the smaller company outpost of Udhailiyah to the south and larger Dhahran to the north.

Abqaiq compound is surrounded by a security fence. Saudi employees also maintain some of their extended families inside the camp. Built originally to house only company employees, the community today is now a multi-ethnic mosaic of Saudis, other Arab nationalities (e.g., Egyptian and Jordanian), Indians, Pakistanis, and a few US and UK expats - with English as the common language. A small "madinat" or "town" is adjacent to the camp. A local HQ for the criminal police is located there. An Islamic propagation center is also located in the town. Abqaiq has an 18-hole golf course with the oiled-sand fairways and sand "greens".


Abqaiq's weather is 10 C (50 F) on winter nights to 60 C (140 F) in summer daytime. On rare occasions, Abqaiq has reached freezing temperatures (0 C or below) during the winter. There are only around 50 to 70 mm (a few inches) of rain each year. Dust storms are a regular occurrence.

Terrorism and security

Abqaiq was the site of a terrorist attack attempt by Al Qaeda on February 24 2006 to attack the oil processing facility. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4747488.stm] The news of attack pushed oil prices up by $2. The damage, however, was immediately contained by Saudi Aramco. According to Khalid R. al-Rodhan of Center for Strategic and International Studies, "even if some of the facilities were destroyed, Saudi Aramco has claimed that it has backup and redundant facilities to produce at near capacity." In a report about the incident, he concludes that "the attack against Abqaiq should not be seen as a turning point in either Saudi stability or the global energy market. Rather, it is evidence that al-Qaeda and other extremists groups will stop at nothing to disturb the global economy and international peace. It also signals that al-Qaeda is changing tactics to attack an area that will garner most attention and inflict most damage on the Saudi leadership, the U.S., and the international community." [http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/060227_abqaiqattack.pdf]

However, a moderate to severe attack on Abqaiq would slow production from an average of 6.8 million barrels a day to 1 million barrels. As mentioned earlier, the chief purpose of Abqaiq is to remove hydrogen sulfide from crude oil and reduce the vapor pressure, making the crude safe to be shipped in tankers. Abqaiq's is the world's largest facility for this stabilization. [http://www.latimes.com/business/investing/wire/sns-ap-saudi-explosion-abqaiq,1,2436787.story?coll=sns-ap-investing-headlines&ctrack=1&cset=true]

ee also

*Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia
*Saudi Aramco
*Aramco expats
*Ras Tanura

External links

* [http://www.jobsataramco.com/index1.html Aramco Services] - Photo tour and info about Abqaiq (and other Aramco communities) under "communities" link
* [http://www.aramco-brats.com/museum/abqaiq.htm Aramco-Brats.com - Abqaiq] - City-specific images and documents

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