TNK-BP Puts New Technology to Work at Largest Russian Field

TNK-BP intends to maintain the current volume of oil production in mature fields, German Khan, Executive Director of TNK-BP, said at a briefing in Nizhnevartovsk, capital of the main oil producing region of TNK-BP. According to Mr. Khan, "this oil production volume generates the required cash flow, which is important to maintain in the current situation."

Obviously, the main task of the entire Russian economy today is support of sustainable development and, in particular, maintenance of the current level in production of natural resources. Lesser volumes of oil and gas production mean lesser payments into budgets of all levels.

The Executive Director of TNK-BP said that the company will continue its activities in the Samotlor field, which account for up to 70% of TNK-BP production. In the beginning, five years ago, TNK-BP directed its efforts to well design, drilling, and completion and used a new approach to hydraulic fracturing. As a result, production of oil in the Samotlor field increased by a third up to nearly 30 million tons a year. According to expectations, oil production in Samotlor will not decline in the nearest four-five years.

This is a really unique achievement in the conditions of natural production decline in mature fields. Estimates of experts show that annual investments of approximately $1 billion are required for maintaining the production at a high level.

The company was compelled to use new technologies in the Samotlor field by circumstances. The time-tested classical method of water flooding turned out to be inefficient in certain parts of the field -- more water was injected into the reservoir but little oil was eventually displaced. The company had to reorient injection and production wells and change the volumes of water injection into different parts of the reservoir. Ultimately, it was decided to use modern geological exploration methods, including three-dimensional seismic surveys.

Approximately 4,000 square meters will be explored in the Samotlor field using new technologies. The two-year program of geological exploration of the company will be completed this year. However, even now it is clear that the use of three-dimensional seismic studies increased the success of drilling and made it possible to construct visual models of individual reservoirs called satellite structures that lie near the main field and infrastructure and may be developed with relatively low expenditures.

According to German Khan, "three-dimensional seismic studies combined with horizontal drilling helped us discover seven satellite structures near the field. Five of them are already being developed now and have opened access to proven reserves of 60 million barrels of oil equivalent."

Nine satellite structures were identified last year, and tests were conducted in two more areas. Now, the results of these works are being analyzed. The Executive Director of TNK-BP said that there are reasons to think that the results of the accomplished works will help the company maintain the current level of oil production in the field.

The Samotlor field was discovered in the vicinity of Nizhnevartovsk in the early 1960s. The reserves of this field exceeded 55 billion barrels of oil (approximately 7.5 billion tons). The first producing well was drilled in 1969. The peak of production in the field is almost 160 million tons a year.

The bookable reserves of the field are estimated at approximately 7 billion barrels of oil and 100 billion cubic meters of gas. The field is being developed by Samotlorneftegaz, a 100% subsidiary of TNK-BP.


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