Gazprom Neft begins selecting technologies for development of hard-to-recover reserves in the Tomsk Oblast

The first exploratory well has been drilled at the Achinsk field (Tomsk Oblast, under development by Gazprom Neft subsidiary Gazpromneft-Vostok), part of a federal project to establish a regional testing ground to identify effective technologies for the development of hard-to-recover (“tight”) reserves. Operations, financed by Gazprom Neft, are also aimed at conducting a study of the unconventional hydrocarbon reserves of the Bazhenov formation.

Gazpromneft-Vostok field, Tomsk Oblast

Sampled at a depth of around 2,600 metres, approximately 30 metres of core samples have been extracted from the Bazhenov formation and subsequently transferred to the All-Russian Research Geological Oil Institute (VNIGNI, the primary institute of the Federal Subsoil Resources Management Agency). Analysis of the material obtained will allow further clarification of the structure of the Bazhenov formation, as well as delivering insights into the long-term prospects for production from these deposits, and the identification of optimum strategies for their development. Drill samples will also be studied by specialists from the Gazprom Neft Scientific and Research Centre.

The Bazhenov formation is a key source of unconventional hydrocarbon reserves. A specific geological stratum identified in the centre of Western Siberia, this rock formation runs to depths of 2,000–3,000 metres. While the stratum covers an area of approximately one million square kilometres, it is comparatively thin, with a thickness of only 10–40 metres. Optimistic estimates suggest that oil reserves of the Bazhenov formation could amount to as much as 100–170 billion tonnes. The development of these reserves in Russia is currently awaiting the selection of appropriate technologies for full-scale commercial production.

An agreement on the establishment of a testing ground for the development of technologies for the exploration and production of hard-to-recover reserves was signed in March 2014 between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation and the Administration of the Tomsk Oblast. The project is being implemented by the Tomsk association, the Research and Development Centre for Innovation in Subsoil Use, of which Gazprom Neft is a member.

Gazprom Neft is also actively involved in the investigation of the Bazhenov formation in other regions. The company is working on the selection of technologies for the development of these strata in the Yuzhno-Priobskoye and Krasnoleninsk fields (Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug). The Gazprom Neft Scientific and Research Centre also partners another federal programme in this area, again directed at the further evaluation of the key characteristics of the Bazhenov formation and the identification of potential technologies for its development. This project is being implemented by the Engineering Centre of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, this institution having won a competition held by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation for the selection of academic developments of state significance under its “Priority Research Initiatives for the Development of the Russian Science and Technology Sector, 2014–2020” programme.

Reference

* Hard-to-recover (“tight”) reserves include reserves in low-permeability, high water penetration, or reduced oil saturation formations, or reserves located in shallow formations. The viable development of these reserves demands the application of the most cutting-edge technologies available, and the most capital-intensive methods of development. Year-end results for 2014 indicate that high-technology wells amounted to almost 40 percent of all wells drilled in the past year at Gazprom Neft — a record average within the Russian oil and gas sector.