Artificial islands to lift Upper Zakum flow

By OGJ editors
-- ExxonMobil Corp. says two pilot wells have demonstrated feasibility of plans to expand development of supergiant Upper Zakum oil field off Abu Dhabi with extended-reach drilling from artificial islands.

The technology is analogous to methods the company and partners are using at the Sakhalin-1 project in northeastern Russia (OGJ Online, Sept. 29, 2010).

ExxonMobil holds a 28% interest in Zakum Development Co. (Zadco), operator of Upper Zakum field, which holds an estimated 50 billion bbl of oil. The field lies 50 miles northeast of Abu Dhabi city.

Zadco is building four artificial islands in 15-80 ft of water in a project designed to raise Upper Zakum production by nearly 40% to 750,000 b/d.

ExxonMobil reported confirmation of the plans via the pilot wells at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition early this month.

Upper Zakum field, discovered in 1964 by an operating company of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC), covers more than 450 sq miles and produces from mostly low-permeability reservoirs through 450 wells drilled from 90 platforms. Typical well depths are 7,000-8,000 ft.

The field, which began production in 1983, has four offshore oil-processing centers linked by pipeline to export facilities on Zirku Island about 35 miles away.

According to ExxonMobil, less than 10% of the field’s oil has been produced.

ADNOC, which owns 60% of Zadco, has let a contract to National Marine Dredging Co. of Abu Dhabi to build four oval islands, 2,000-2,600 ft in diameter, from sand and rock barged from quarries in the United Arab Emirates. Construction is to be completed in 2012.

ExxonMobil interest in Zadco is 28%. Japan Oil Development Co. holds 12%.

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