Another plunge into the Earth’s bowels | 345 (January-February 2019)

LUKOIL begins new drilling campaign in Iraq

2019-02-11 11:33 Views 1179

Over the course of a rainy and windy January 2019, two drilling rigs were rigged up on the Cluster #4 at Iraq’s West Qurna-2 oilfield in anticipation of the 28 wells that are to be drilled at the Mishrif formation.

The rig-up works were completed one week ahead of schedule. The contractor – Bohai Drilling Company (BHDC) – already has a history with LUKOIL: its BHDC 37 rig, which will drill 16 of the 28 wells, was used at West Qurna-2 during a previous drilling campaign in 2013-14.

LUKOIL’s own drilling staff is enthusiastic about the undertaking. In total the company has just signed three contracts for 57 wells: 54 at Mishrif and three at the Yamama formation. It will allow LUKOIL to reach production target of 480 thousand bpd in 2020 and 800 thousand bpd in 2025.

While the Mishrif wells will be drilled by BHDC, the Yamama ones will be completed by another Chinese contractor – ZPEC.

LUKOIL is the first company in Iraq to set up a completely new well pad with two drilling rigs rigged up simultaneously. This type of operation is more common in Western Siberia, where artificial islands are often the only possible base for well pads. In the Middle East, one well pad will typically accommodate a single rig that can drill 4-8 wells in total.

Tarek Mattar, Drilling Supervisor

I’ve worked in Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the past, but didn’t see this type of cluster with two drilling rigs in either of them. It may be the only one of its kind in the Middle East. All of the wells are in line between the two rigs, and sub-surface targets are all around. It looks like a big network not unlike those created for offshore drilling.

With cluster drilling, step-out (horizontal distance between surface and target) could exceed 3,000 meters while in case of single well drilling it will be much less. I’m very happy to have the unique experience of working on this project: new technologies, modern software and a lot of information. It boggles the mind.

Working on such cluster is a challenging task, as all operations – drilling, completion and hook up – are performed simultaneously. There can be up to 300 people at the cluster at the same time. Different departments must carefully coordinate their work so processes proceed smoothly and without interruptions.

Another issue is security. After several instances of civil unrest in 2018, LUKOIL is paying great attention to production facilities’ defense. The company is tightening its security rules and requesting its contractors do the same.

One of the key demands of locals during protests last summer was for more jobs. The upcoming drilling campaign offers hope in this regard, as contractors and sub-contractors should be able to hire up to 500 local residents from the Medeina, Ezz-Eldin Salem,Qurna and nearby districts.

West Qurna-2’s development is also closely connected to land compensation process. Local tribes traditionally used its territory for planting crops. Prior to starting any works, LUKOIL had to negotiate terms for land utilization for oil production with them. In 2011, the Land Compensation Committee for West Qurna-2 was established. LUKOIL employees and Committee members created a road map for the compensation process, negotiated land issues, made an inventory and provided the Basra Oil Company necessary documentation for allocating funds. To date, 97% of the land plots have been inventoried and 90% have been compensated for. The compensation process for the Yamama plot is about to begin.

All parties are optimistic about the upcoming developments at West Qurna-2: LUKOIL hopes to receive timely compensation and remuneration, the Basra Oil Company will benefit from higher export volumes and state-of-the-art production facilities and local residents are looking forward to higher living standards and new employment opportunities.

Now all sides must work together in order to turn these expectations into reality.

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