By Saule Tasboulatova
In search of new hydrocarbon reserves Kazakhstan intends to break a world record in super-deep drilling. In 2015 in Atyrau Oblast (tentatively on the border with West Kazakhstan Oblast) the drilling of a 15 kilometers deep exploration well will start. The project is called “Eurasia” and from the point of its ambitiousness - it can be compared, for example, to rocket launch to the Moon …
DREAM COSTS HALF A BILLION
The Eurasia project will be presented in iAtyrau this fall at the Interregional Cooperation Forum of Kazakhstan and Russia with participation of two presidents. Judging by the project’s name, it’s quite probable that “travel to Earth’s center” is planned together with Russia.
For the first time this project was announced last year at the VIIIth Kazenergy Euroasian Forum – “Energy of the Future - the Euroasian Prospects”. The purpose of the project – exploration of deep oil-bearing horizons of the Pre-Caspian Depression.
The Pre-Caspian Depression located in Western Kazakhstan and in lower reaches of Volga, is considered to be an oil-and-gas bearing zone. Major fields, such as Tengiz, Korolyov, Kashagan and others have been discovered here.
According to geologists’ estimations to continue to explore the fields in this area at the depth of 5 km and more is pointless. In the central part of the Pre-Caspian Depression (for example, between Atyrau and Uralsk), according to forecasts, there could be about 20 fields with reserves amounting to 300 million tons of oil each.
The RoK government included the Eurasia Project into Comprehensive Plan for development of oil and gas sector for 2014-2018. Responsible parties are: the Ministry of the Industry and New Technologies, the Ministry of Economics and Budget Planning, the Ministry of Finance, Samruk-Kazyna Fund, KazMunayGas Oil Company. The cost of the project - about 500 million dollars. Major foreign investors will be involved into its implementation. It is planned to create the Consortium, similar to Kashagan Consortium. Though it isn't really clear what investors are going to gain from this project.
WE NEED “ROCKET SCIENCE” TECHNOLOGIES
One of the initiators of the project - Baltabek Kuandykov, the president of Meridian Petroleum LLP, the doctor of geological and mineralogical sciences, who participated in the discovery of Kashagan field, told us about the details of the Eurasia project:
– We haven’t started to work on the Eurasia project yet. Currently we are resolving organizational issues. It is still difficult to say exactly where the initial well will be drilled, but it will be in the central part of Pre-Caspian Depression, most likely, on the border of Atyrau and West Kazakhstan Oblasts. If we imagine the Pre-Caspian Depression as the bowl, then it will be the bottom of the bowl, the lowest part of it.
Drilling of such super-deep well is equivalent to rocket launch, therefore it will require special technology and new materials: absolutely new type of metal, cement, drilling equipment. For this purpose we are going to attract the most advanced companies and technologies, including the space technologies.
Our idea is to discover new reserves, when in 20-30 years oil production will start to recess. We have the knowledge of what we have at the depth of 5-6 km. We will not make any other major discoveries on these depths. All favorable forecasts are in deeper horizons, therefore it is necessary to research the rocks, temperatures, and the condition of hydrocarbons located there.
It involves risks, because nobody ever drilled so deep. We are facing dangers associated with abnormal reservoir pressure and temperature and it will be difficult to find new technologies.