Development due Colombian heavy oil field

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Feb. 9 -- Meta Petroleum Ltd., jointly owned by US investment company Elliott Advisors and Synergy Group of Brazil, plans to increase production to 100,000 b/d of upgraded crude oil from 9,000 b/d by advancing development of Rubiales heavy oil field in the Llanos basin of central Colombia (OGJ Online, July 23, 2002).

Meta has let a contract to Mustang Engineering for front-end engineering design (FEED) and cost estimate services for a heavy oil upgrader complex at Rubiales.

The project includes the design of crude oil production and stabilization facilities, raw crude desalting and diluent recovery, and two parallel heavy crude conversion units.

Mustang also will design the offsite and utility systems to support the upgrading complex, and facilities for a planned pipeline. It and parent John W. Wood Group's Colombian sister company Energéticos will perform the work.

The 12.5º gravity crude produced at present is transported by truck for sale as asphalt and fuel oil in Bogota, Cali, Medillin, and Cartagena. Tuskar Resources PLC of Dublin discovered the field in 1989. When Meta Petroleum bought development rights in 2002, output was 700 b/d from 10 wells. The field now has 35 wells.

Development plan
German Efromovich, head of Synergy Group, last year said further Rubiales development would require drilling of 600 wells.

In an interview published in the May-June issue of state-owned Ecopetrol's Carta Petrolera, Efromovich said the field has 3 billion bbl of heavy crude in place.

The development he envisions would cost nearly $1 billion, $300 million for the drilling and $700 million for infrastructure including the upgrader and a pipeline of undetermined size to Casanare. He expects the drilling to be complete by 2008. Production then would be 50,000 b/d and rise to 100,000 b/d by 2010.

Rubiales wells are shallow, requiring about 9 days to drill, Efromovich said, adding that the drilling program would involve four or five rigs.

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