The Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field is the northernmost onshore field in Russia. This asset is expected to become a major component in the country’s new oil province in the north of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug.
The first of the Messoyakha-group fields — the Zapadno- (Western-) Messoyakhskoye field — was discovered in 1983, and the second — the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye — in the 1990s. These are the northernmost onshore fields currently under development in Russia. Complex underlying geology, however, together with the absence of any transport infrastructure, meant development at Messoyakha was delayed until the second decade of the 21st century.
Proactive pre-commissioning and development of this asset began following the decision to build Zapolyarye-Purpe pipeline, connecting the northern fields of the Tyumen Oblast to the of Eastern Siberia—Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline transportation system. The license for exploration and development at Messoyakha is held by Messoyakhaneftegaz — a 50:50 joint enterprise between Gazprom Neft and Rosneft. Operational management of Messoyakhaneftegaz is the responsibility of Gazprom Neft.
Oil production at the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field — the starting point for development — is being undertaken exclusively through horizontal wells, with horizontal sections of approximately 1,000 metres. This is necessitated by the geology of deposits, further complicated by a significant gas cap. In addition to which, the oil-bearing rocks, located throughout various strata, are disconnected and of diverse origin. Oil-bearing areas located in various production zones (horizons) are discontinuous, and of diverse origin.
To increase the coverage ratio (“sweep efficiency”), the more complex overlying strata have been developed through the use of “fishbone wells” — multilateral wells trunking from a main horizontal well. Well-drilling technologies for a diverse (discontinuous) configuration of this kind were successfully tested and implemented in 2017, and fracking operations successfully undertaken in underlying production targets with abnormally high formation pressure, leading to an improved oil recovery factor (ORF).
The pipeline route avoids crossing feeding grounds for local deer pastures, and places sacred to indigenous peoples. Special crossings have been built on deer-herd migration routes, and where the pipeline traverses the major Indikyakha and Muduiyakha rivers (crossed by migrating deer herds in winter and used by small-sized boats in summer) it passes underground — the northernmost underwater crossings in Russia, built using directional drilling.
Cutting-edge technologies were used in building the pipeline, in order to optimise its reliability. Automatic and semi-automatic welding was used by the company for the first time, and the pipeline equipped with leak-detection and anti-corrosion systems, on completion.
The high viscosity and lower reservoir temperature (about 8°С) of this oil notwithstanding, specialist oil production, processing and transportation technologies have not been necessary at Messoyakha — significantly improving the viability of the project.
However, in order to avoid thawing of the subsurface permafrost — which risks subsidence, landslides and, ultimately, serious accidents — all infrastructure has been built above ground. The construction of the core facilities alone — the central gathering point (CGP), the crude oil delivery and acceptance point (CODAP), and the gas turbine power plant (CTPP) — involved delivering about 50,000 tonnes of foundation piles (stilts) to the field, over temporary winter ice roads.
The development strategy for this asset envisages the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field producing five million tonnes of oil per year by 2018 — and all Phase I infrastructure has been built on that basis. Reaching peak production of 6.5 million tonnes per year by 2020 will require the construction of Phase II infrastructure, which will also serve the Zapadno-Messoyakhskoye field, development of which is planned at a later stage.