Output at Kazakh megaproject rises above 75,000bpd
KASHAGAN, Kazakhstan’s largest hydrocarbon deposit, is now producing oil in commercial quantities, Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev said on November 21. Speaking to members of the Kazakh parliament, Bozumbayev said that North Caspian Operating Co. (NCOC), the consortium that is developing the field, had brought output levels up to the commercial threshold of 75,000 bpd on November 1. He also indicated that yields had remained at or above this level since the beginning of the month. NCOC subsequently confirmed the minister’s statements. “We confirm today’s announcement of the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan that commercial production has begun at the Kashagan field in the Caspian Sea,” the consortium said on November 21. According to previous reports, NCOC extracted around 201,000 tonnes (nearly 1.7 million barrels) of crude in October, its first full month of development operations. This put daily output levels at approximately 52,600 bpd. According to Bozumbayev, since Kashagan began test production on September 28, it has yielded about 500,000 tonnes (3.8 million barrels) of crude. The field is on track to produce up to 1.1 million tonnes (8.36 million barrels) of oil this year, and output will rise to 4-8 million tonnes (30.4-60.8 million barrels, or 83,288- 166,575 bpd) in 2017, he said. The minister also recalled that NCOC had delivered its first cargo of crude from Kashagan on October 14. On the same day, he said, the cargo was loaded into the pipeline system of state-owned KazTransOil (KTO) for transfer to the export link operated by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). Kashagan, which lies in the north Caspian Sea, contains 9-13 billion barrels of oil in recoverable reserves and more than 1 tcm of gas. Most of the crude extracted from the field will be exported via the CPC link and other overland pipelines, while most of the gas will be reserved for domestic consumption. NCOC includes KMG, Kazakhstan’s national oil company (NOC), as well as Eni (Italy), ExxonMobil (US), Royal Dutch Shell (UK/Netherlands), Total (France), Inpex (Japan) and China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC). The consortium had previously been known as Agip KCO, but it was re-organised in 2008 after technical problems and cost overruns prevented then-operator Eni from bringing the field on line by 2005 as pledged. NCOC finally began production in September 2013 but suspended operations just a few weeks later, following the discovery of gas leaks in offshore pipeline networks. Since then, NCOC has rebuilt its pipelines so that the network can withstand sulphide stress corrosion from the sour crude in Kashagan’s reservoir. (The oil must be treated prior to export).