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Timeframe announced for receiving inspection results of pipeline in Kashagan field

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The analysis results of a steel pipeline samples in Kazakhstan`s Kashagan oil and gas field, will be ready by April 2014, reads the press service of the North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) international consortium, reports.

"It is expected that the results of analyses of steel samples, which are being conducted in the laboratory of TWI and other specialized laboratories in France and Italy, will be ready in April 2014," the consortium said.

The press service said that the inspection of oil and gas pipelines stretching from the Island D to the Bolashak Integrated Oil and Gas Treatment Unit were examined by diagnostic intratubal device, and at present interpretation of the data is underway.

"Interpretation of the data is a complex process that requires a high degree of scrupulousness. Accordingly, obtaining reliable results, which then will form the basis for the development of the pipeline restoration plan, takes certain time," the consortium noted.

Furthermore, NCOC press-service said that the comments recently voiced in the media about the delay in receiving the final results of the interpretation of data are just speculations.

"During the inspection on January 11, 2014 diesel fuel was found on the ground part of the pipeline near the Bolashak Factory. Excavation was made with isolation of the particular part of the pipeline, and also fuel leakage in the weld was confirmed," the consortium said.

As reported earlier, the sulfide cracking of the pipeline caused the leakage. Currently, the cause of the cracking is being studied. In response to suggestions made by the media, the operator said that the formation of gas hydrate under no circumstances was able to lead to the sulfide cracking.

The hydrates are formed when the components of the natural gas enter the junction with water and freeze at temperatures above the freezing point of water. This can lead to partial or complete blockage of gas transmission pipelines. The operator also said that no hydrate formation was detected so far in the production facilities of the Kashagan field.

At present, work is underway in the field to confirm each case of alleged leakage (defect) by dredging the soil, and, if necessary - the pipe sections.

"Previously published materials in the media in relation to the number of defects are pure speculations," the consortium said.

Examination of lines has already been completed in the gas pipeline, and in the oil pipeline.

As a result of laboratory analyses carried out on fragments of pipes under simulated real working environment, it was concluded that the specifications of the pipeline material are designed for applying under the circumstances in Kashagan field.

Technical specifications fully meet the requirements of NACE (National Association of Corrosion Engineers), appropriate ISO standards, as well as the best international practices in the exploitation of oil fields. As previously reported, the sour gas pipeline was specifically designed for the exploiting in the environment with the calculated H2S content and water availability.

"Timing of production resumption will depend on the results of the analysis of the main reasons, on the results of pipeline inspection and plan of renovations," the NCOC said.

Depending on the amount of work on the replacement of oil and gas pipelines, may require a different number of its segments. As a precaution, not to lose time, the consortium started the tender process for potential purchasing of enough pipe segments for different kinds of scenarios.

Oil production at Kashagan started on September 11, 2013, but on September 24 its operation was suspended after detection of a gas leak from the ground pipeline stretching from the Island D to the Bolashak factory. According to the operating procedures, the Department on Emergency situations relavant control authorities were immediately informed of the incident.

An access to the pipeline was made available, and the junctures were replaced. Production was resumed, but again suspended on October 9 after detection of a leak. Hydro-testing was conducted, which identified other potential leaks.

Kashagan is one of the largest fields discovered in the past 40 years. According to analysts, Kashagan has the potential to unite the top five largest oil companies in the world. Kazakh geologists estimate geological oil reserves of 4.8 billion tons. According to the project operator, total oil reserves are 38 billion barrels (six billion tons), with a recoverable volume of about 10 billion barrels. Natural gas reserves are estimated at over one trillion cubic meters.

April 7 2014, 11:48

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