Free floating drilling may be needed for servicing Shah Deniz-2

Oil&Gas Materials 28 October 2010 15:26 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 28 / Trend E.Ismayilov /

The concept of Stage 2 of the Shah Deniz offshore gas field development in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea, which provides for the construction of several platforms, is safer from an environmental standpoint, a source in the oil and gas market said. At present, the project partners continue discussions on the final choice of concept.

The source said the main advantage of the concept of building platforms over the concept of a point drilling and underwater mining is the ability to quickly respond in case problems arise in the production process and simplicity of the process of monitoring the development of the field.

Despite the big plus, this method also has its disadvantages. In particular, it costs more than the point, which provides for drilling of many wells across the field and their connection to one platform. In addition, the drilling of new wells from the platform limits the scope of the entire field because the maximum deviation distance of wells from the platform in the lateral drilling amounts to five kilometers. Moreover, the directed drilling is more expensive than the vertical, the source said.

According to the source, in turn, the point drilling allows the most free and full development of the field. Still this method is less secure since the field is located on the Caspian Sea, which is a closed basin and any problem or leak could lead to an ecological catastrophe. Control and maintenance of wells with an underwater pumping, which are assumed within the concept of a point drilling requires the availability of semi-submersible rigs that are necessary for the maintenance of these wells and, if necessary - eliminating technical problems.

There are no such vacant facilities in the Caspian Sea and the existing ones are constantly engaged in the drilling operations in the Azerbaijani sector of the Sea, and in other sectors of the Caspian countries.

The source said the concept envisaging the construction of new platforms is more appropriate for Azerbaijan, because after the expiry of the contractual obligations to foreign companies, all of the platforms and infrastructure at the field would pass under the operatorship of the republic, which is more economical in terms of maintenance costs of the whole infrastructure.

The contract to develop Shah Deniz was signed in June 1996. Participants are: BP (operator) - 25.5 percent; Statoil - 25.5 percent; NICO - 10 percent; Total - 10 percent; LukAgip - 10 percent; TPAO - 9 percent; and, SOCAR - 10 percent.

Reserves of the Shah Deniz field are estimated at 1.2 trillion cubic meters of gas.

Gas is transported to Georgia and Turkey through the South Caucasus gas pipeline.

This year the field will produce 7.84 billion cubic meters of gas. Peak production is forecast at over 8.6-9 billion cubic meters. Gas production may be brought up to 25 billion cubic meters per year under the second phase of development.

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