Astana, Kazakhstan, April 28
By Daniyar Mukhtarov - Trend:
The resumption of oil production is not planned at the Kashagan field in 2014, North Caspian Operating Company reported.
"The restart of production will depend on the results of the investigation which are due by the end of Q2, but production is not expected to resume in 2014," the report said.
The current assessment, based on investigation results to date, is that both oil and gas lines might have to be fully replaced, to be confirmed once the ongoing investigation is completed. The Operator is now developing a full replacement plan, which is expected to be finalized by mid-2014.
The plan includes tenders to select suppliers and contractors, deciding on the material specifications, and incorporating the availability of key equipment. The intention is to develop an optimized plan to replace the lines taking into account any potential for early production restart. As a precautionary measure, to avoid losing time, the Consortium has already initiated the tender process for the purchase of pipeline joints.
Following the start of production from the Kashagan field on 11 September 2013, the operations had to be stopped on 24 September, due to a gas leak in the onshore section of the gas pipeline running from D Island to the onshore processing facility "Bolashak". The Department of Emergency Situations and the relevant authorities were immediately informed in accordance with the regulations. The access to the line was secured and the respective joint replaced. Production was resumed, but had to be stopped again on 9 October after the detection of a gas leak. Following repair of the affected joint, pressure tests were performed revealing some other potential gas leaks. A thorough investigation was launched at that time.
The immediate cause of the pipeline failures was traced by material experts to be sulphide stress cracking (SSC) due to unexpected locally elevated hardness of the steel.
Laboratory analyses and simulations of the operational environment with samples from the pipeline concluded that the steel specifications for the pipeline were appropriate for the conditions of the Kashagan field. The specifications meet the requirements of the NACE standards (National Association of Corrosion Engineers), respective ISO standards, and best practices in international oil and gas field development. As was previously communicated, the sour gas line was designed to withstand the expected H2S content and the presence of water.
Kashagan is one of the largest fields discovered in the past 40 years. Kazakh geologists estimate geological oil reserves at 4.8 billion tons.