Adnoc: Bab, Zakum fields upgrade; New blend launched

By Eudore R. Chand

ABU DHABI 15 November 2017: The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) plans to upgrade operations at its maturing Bab field to enable production levels to be sustained and production capacity to be increased from 420,000 barrels of oil per day to 450,000 barrels of oil per day by 2020.

An Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract has been awarded to China Petroleum Engineering & Construction Corporation (CPECC), affiliated to China National Petroleum (CNPC), by Adnoc Onshore, Adnoc’s subsidiary which operates the field, to carry out the works.

The asset upgrade will include the deployment of cluster drilling, in which multiple oil wells are co-located in one place, for the first time at Bab, reducing cost and the environmental footprint of drilling operations. At the same time, digital oil field technology will be introduced to remotely monitor and analyse well performance.

In addition to upgrading Bab production operations, the investment will increase water and gas handling capabilities and deliver an additional degassing and processing train, to be built alongside the existing seven trains that condition crude oil for export.

Upper Zakum Capacity Increase

Adnoc, ExxonMobil Abu Dhabi Offshore Petroleum Company Limited and Japan’s Inpex Corporation, announced on the side lines of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (Adipec), an agreement to increase production capacity from the Upper Zakum oil field to 1 million barrels per day by 2024.

Under the agreement, ExxonMobil and Inpex have been granted a 10-year extension for the concession, which was due to expire on December 31, 2041, until December 31, 2051.

The Upper Zakum oil field, located offshore Abu Dhabi, is the second largest offshore oil field and the fourth largest oil field in the world. Oil was first discovered in 1963 and Adnoc took the decision, at its own risk, to develop the field, in 1977. Subsequently, in 1978, Jodco, a wholly-owned Inpex subsidiary, partnered with Adnoc in developing the field, followed by Exxon, in 2006.

In the same year, the Upper Zakum joint venture partners began studying options to increase production capacity from 500,000 barrels per day to 750,000 barrels per day, eventually pursuing the plan to use an innovative artificial island-based development combined with extended-reach drilling technology to increase recovery and minimize infrastructure.

The megaproject involved the construction of four artificial islands in shallow water to create what is effectively an onshore environment in the offshore field. Unlike the initial Upper Zakum development, which comprises around 450 wells and more than 90 platforms, the islands provide a large enough footprint to accommodate drilling rigs and house drilling and production equipment and personnel centrally in offices and living quarters, at lower cost and with enhanced safety and comfort for workers. The ongoing costs associated with platform jacket maintenance and satellites are eliminated.

The development will continue to use extended-reach drilling and completion technologies that have proven effective in increasing offshore production.

Extended-reach drilling is about tapping into reservoirs from a distance, drilling first vertically, then drilling at high angle to access the reservoir target and finally drilling horizontally in the reservoir section to maximize reservoir access and recovery. Through extended-reach drilling, the man-made islands at Upper Zakum avoid the need for additional platforms with costly offshore operations, and instead enable cheaper land-based drilling operations. Extended-reach drilling adds further value to drilling operations by reducing the need for costly subsea equipment and pipelines.

The development will also utilize state-of-the-art reservoir characterization and modelling techniques, as well as modularly expanding existing infrastructure and facilities to maximize capital efficiency and lower costs. Adnoc and its partners have applied uncertainty modelling in the development of the Upper Zakum offshore oil fields, in challenging carbonate geological conditions, to prepare the ground for optimal value creation in the long term.

In recent years, the Upper Zakum development has set several drilling records in the UAE, including the longest well at 35,800 feet measured depth.d as Part of Strategy to Maximise Value from its Operations

New Crude Blend

Adnoc has announced plans to launch ‘Umm Lulu Crude Oil’, a new crude blend produced from its Umm Lulu and Sarb fields, operated by Adnoc Offshore.

Umm Lulu Crude Oil, which has an expected API density of around 39 degrees and sulphur content of around 0.7 percent weight per cent, is a light crude, rich in light middle distillates with a low sulphur and metal content. The first exports of Umm Lulu Crude Oil are anticipated in Q1 2018, and production will increase gradually over the coming five-year period.

The Umm Lulu super complex is one of the largest super complexes to be installed offshore Abu Dhabi and will be one of the largest offshore oil and gas complexes in the Middle East. The first oil from the Umm Lulu Phase-1 was produced in October 2014.

As part of the Satah Al-Razboot (Sarb) Full Field Development Project, two artificial islands, Sarb North and Sarb South, have been constructed on the northwest coast of Abu Dhabi and drilling operations are underway. Processing, storage and export of Umm Lulu and Sarb crudes will be from Zirku island.

Umm Lulu Crude Oil joins the Adnoc crude family which includes the onshore grade Murban and offshore grades Das Crude and Upper Zakum.

In line with its 2030 Strategy and five-year business plan, Adnoc is on track to increase its total crude oil production capacity to 3.5m bpd by the end of 2018.