Gazpromneft-Sakhalin, a subsidiary of Gazprom Neft, has started drilling a new exploration well in the Dolginskoye field on the continental shelf in the Pechora sea. The work is being carried out during the ice-free months of 2014 and will involve drilling a single well to a depth of 3,500m and conducting a full range of geological investigations. The experience gained from previous work on the continental shelf, including at the relatively nearby Prirazlomnoye field also operated by Gazprom Neft, was taken into account during preparations for the exploration programme.
Major global service companies such as Schlumberger and Weatherford are involved in the Dolginskoye project. Based on initial studies, a further programme will be drawn up to explore the field and prepare for exploratory drilling during the ice-free seasons in the years to follow.
Drilling and testing of the well will be carried out in 2014 by the GSP Saturn jackup rig, which arrived on site in
Advanced innovative technology will be employed, including environmentally safe water-based drilling fluid system. А rotary control system will be used for drilling on the Arctic shelf, which will speed up drilling and reduce drilling mud. Any mud produced will be shipped back to the mainland to be recycled in line with the zero-discharge policy. In addition, an innovative borehole management system from one of the world’s leading hydrodynamic survey companies will be used for the first time in Russia to improve reliability and quality of work. This technology will speed up the study of the oil reservoir and enable high-quality measurements to be taken with maximum safety and efficiency. This will be the first time that some of this technology has ever been used in Russia.
The Spasatel Karev emergency support vessel will be on hand round the clock while work is taking place. Along with the four ships chartered for ancillary work, it is equipped with a DP-2 dynamic positioning system that allows it to maintain a fixed position for loading in extreme weather conditions. The border checkpoint at Varandey airport has been extended to allow flights to the Dolginskoye field. Until now the airport has only been open for flights to the Prirazlomnoye platform.
The GSP Saturn is fully authorised to drill on the Arctic shelf. It has undergone cutting-edge refurbishment in 2009 which included fitting drilling and marine equipment and equipping the platform for operation in northern latitudes under severe wind and wave conditions. The Saturn meets the latest international standards for industrial and environmental safety and has held Dutch and Danish permits to drill on the Arctic shelf since 2009. In 2013 the platform carried out drilling work on a project for German Wintershall in the North Sea.
In April 2014 the platform was inspected by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), which confirmed its compliance with all drilling safety regulation. Lloyd’s Register Drilling Integrity Services, the world leaders in independent technical inspections of offshore drilling facilities, also approved the rig for Arctic operations. The audit took place in May 2014 confirming that all the necessary provisions for operating in severe climactic conditions were in place. In addition, at the end of May 2014 the Russian Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor) performed an on-site inspection of the platform and confirmed its adherence to all of the requirements of Russian law pertaining to industrial and environmental safety.
The Dolginskoye oil field lies in the middle of the Pechora Sea, 120km south of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago and 110km north of the mainland. The field was discovered in 1999; the sea is approximately 35-55m deep in the field area. 2D seismic work has been carried out on more than 11,000 linear kilometers, and 3D seismic on 1,600 linear kilometers. Three exploration wells have been drilled: two at North Dolginskoye and one at South Dolginskoye. Drilling of another exploration well — North Dolginskoye 3 — began in 2014. Recoverable reserves are currently estimated at over 200 million tonnes of oil equivalent.