Romona Geosolutions Wins First Major Survey off Sakhalin

Romona GeoSolutions, the joint venture company between Thales GeoSolutions and its partner in Russia, Romona Ltd, has been awarded its first major geoscience contract by the Rosneft and BP Alliance. Worth approximately US $ 3 million, the contract covers a range of geophysical, geotechnical and geochemical surveys to be completed by mid October this year.

In carrying out the geoscience surveys identified under the terms of the contract, Romona GeoSolutions personnel will be working in one of the most logistically and environmentally challenging areas of the globe, the offshore Rosneft/BP Block, Sakhalin V, off the north-eastern coast of Sakhalin Island, Far East Russia.

Having already arrived in the Sakhalin region from Singapore, The MV Thales Eastern, one of the Thales fleet of dedicated survey vessels - complete with its extensive range of precise positioning systems and the latest geoscience equipment - is the ship being used for this particular assignment.

Awarding the contract, Neil Piggott, BP exploration manager - Sakhalin, said: "Romona GeoSolutions offered a competitively priced service based on local knowledge and experience. However, their proposal of a dedicated fully equipped survey vessel with an existing good HSE and operational record with BP was the final reasoning behind their success in this competitively tendered contract."

Commenting on this significant contract win, Alexi Kornokhov, Romona GeoSolutions' general manager, said: "This contract win justifies the commitment shown by Romona and Thales in working together to form the joint venture company, Romona GeoSolutions. The company combines the local expertise of Romona Ltd with the resources and international backing of Thales GeoSolutions."

Rosneft is the holder of the Exploration License for the Sakhalin V Kaigansky-Vasukansky block. Under an Alliance agreement with BP, the two companies are pursuing a five-year exploration programme of the block. This involved 2D seismic followed by 3D seismic acquisition in the summer of 2002, and the Alliance partners are currently preparing for drilling a first exploration well in the summer of 2004. A critical part of that preparation involves geotechnical surveys to establish a baseline for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and geo-hazard assessment site clearance work on prospective well locations. To allow 2004 drilling, this work needs to be completed in the 2003 ice-free season offshore Sakhalin.

The Thales Eastern is a purpose built geophysical vessel, which was recently upgraded while at berth in Singapore with the installation of a new hot water system, heaters and thermal suits. The new installation enables the vessel and crew to work in cold weather conditions below 0 degrees C, increasing greatly the vessel's geographical areas of operation to cover regions that were previously not accessible, such as the Sakhalin.

The vessel is equipped to perform a variety of survey tasks that include; 2D exploration, data acquisition, multi-streamer high-resolution seismic, shallow target 3D seismic, deepwater surveys, pipeline surveys, high-resolution site surveys and ROV surveys. In addition, the Thales Eastern was recently fitted with SkyFix XP, together with MultiFix IV - the associated positioning QC Software. Thales SkyFix XP is the company's latest satellite differential global positioning system (DGPS) providing real-time decimetric positional accuracy without the traditional restriction of distance from a reference station, resulting in a more reliable position and minimizing operation downtime.

The Thales Eastern is also fitted with a Simrad SDP01 dynamic positioning system to enhance the vessels' geotechnical and ROV capabilities.