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​Kashagan: new islands to appear in the Caspian sea

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By Laura Suleimenova

Image 0Remedial activities are ongoing at the North Caspian project on section of field pipelines running between D island and Bolashak plant. Meanwhile the Consortium is going to submit to Kazakhstan a new concept of full-scale development of Kashagan.

Concrete Coated Pipes Are Delivered

Pipe sections for new 28-inch oil and gas pipeline, as it was expected (see "Kashagan as a premonition"), are being delivered coated with concrete layer. To recall, all these activities NCOC, the operator of the project, is performing within the framework of implementation of Stage 1 – Experimental Program designed for production of 370 thousand barrels per day.

The comprehensive program covers the following:

1. Completion of all work scopes related to Experimental Program.

2. Equipment upgrade for improvement of its characteristics.

3. Servicing of operating equipment.

4. Conservation of plants ready for restart.

5. Repeated start-up.

This year NCOC plans to replace existing compressors of instant evaporation of gas. In 2015 it is scheduled to spend over $250 million for those purposes.

Activities on the development stage are ongoing, including drilling, completion and preparation of wells for operation, fabrication and installation of upper structures at EPC3, EPC2 and EPC4, completion of purchases and continuation of construction within railway complex project at Western Eskene ($185 million in 2015), as well as design, purchasing and construction of technical water units (i.e. units for cleaning of reservoir waters).

Also activities at A island are envisaged without using drilling rigs at VK-06 well and assembly of backpressure valves on 7 wells.

In addition $118 million will go for financing of the following activities: infrastructure facilities, training program for Kazakhstan specialists, continuation of international employment program, implementation of social and infrastructure programs (SIP); geologic-geophysical works; pre-design researches on liquefied hydrocarbonic gases depending on results of discussion with (United Chemical Company) UCC.

Concerning the last item, let us recall that NCOC and UCC are conducting negotiations on delivering Kashagan raw materials for gas-chemical complex that is currently under construction at Karabatan. And at the initial stage the complex will be operating on Tengiz feed.

Expenses of the North Caspian project operator for the listed scope of work within two Stages in 2015 will constitute over $2,9 billion. The total budget of the project is $4,2 billion.


“Ak Zhaik" learnt from its own sources that within Experimental Program one more remote artificial island will appear between EPC 2 and EPC 3 islands, so-called Center for compressing CC01. On the new island two compressors for pumping gas will be installed that earlier were removed from operational and technological system on D island as per risk reduction program. As the result, on D island there will be only two compressors for pumping gas and its actual capacity for production and primary separation is limited to 370 thousand barrels of oil per day.

Only after implementation of CC01 project the productivity on D island and of the whole Experimental Program will reach the design mark of 450 thousand barrels of oil per day.

According to integrated schedule of the Consortium the completion of CC01 project is expected at the beginning of 2024. CC01 island will be designed for installation of except two compressors, additional three compressors for pumping gas for the use on the following, 2nd stage of Kashagan development. And during full-scale development the construction of two more similar islands for compressors has been provided.

As for full-scale development, we learnt that NCOC is going to submit to the Kazakhstan party a new concept. The main idea of the concept is to build 5 more artificial island in the offshore area of Kashagan with average capacity, so-called midi-ETK, each of them will be designed for production and preparation of 200 thousand barrels of oil per day. And this time the Consortium strongly intends to refuse the construction of onshore units for subsequent processing and storage of sulfur. All operations on preparation of oil are planned to perform on these midi-ETKs, and all associated gas will be pumped back into the reservoir or utilized as fuel on offshore facilities.


While NCOC is working on implementation of its short-term and long-term plans, the employees of contracting companies of the Consortium are exchanging views in social networks. Emotions often read off scale, but anyway there is food for thoughts. For example: "It is time to start well workovers. Islands have been standing on conservation for 5-8 years. Wait and see how these rotted equipment, decayed from hydrogen sulfide, and casings will be flying off like spaghetti under high pressure. At Bolashak plant everything has gone rusty. Judge for yourself, the plant was constructed about eight years ago, it stood idle and still stands idle. There is no circulation inside the pipes, they have been corroded. At this plant everything needs to be replaced, piping work is done. And they are going to re-start at their own risk".

About ecology: "Now, when they took out old pipelines there was a canal formed running up to the sea where no fish-protecting blockage has been installed, and fish, particularly sazan fish, is using that trench for spawning, having taken it for the river channel. And what will be with the whitebaits that hatched in salty sea water?" But these questions are for the ministry of ecology.

May 19 2015, 10:00

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