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Kashagan production facilities start up

Oilfield Technology,

The North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) announced today an important milestone in the development of the Kashagan field. On the occasion of Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and British Prime Minister David Cameron visiting the Kashagan project facilities, the NCSPSA Consortium celebrated the completion and start-up of the field's production facilities.

Pierre Offant, managing director NCOC, added: “Preparations for start-up both onshore and offshore commenced in 2012 and progressed at a steady pace. Today we celebrate the completion of a very important milestone, which we have been looking forward to: the commencement of the start-up of production facilities, which means from today onward, the project facilities will become live in a staged process. It is an achievement we can be all proud of and which will mark the beginning of safe start-up leading to the start of production. During this complex process, safety will remain our top priority.”

Due to the size and complexity of the project, the start-up of Kashagan is a long sequence of progressive steps leading to initial production and a progressive ramping up to the intended levels. This long sequence of complex processes includes the completion of each unit, assurance that each unit operates safely according to design specifications, employee training and assurance that all production systems are operational.

Once all milestones have been completed successfully, the integrated system will receive the first oil and gas from some 4200 m below the North Caspian Sea. This will be delivered by eight wells on the artificial A Island. The wells and the pipeline system are ready for production, whereas the offshore production and treatment facilities on D Island are in the final stages of commissioning.

At the onshore Bolashak Processing Facility, the preparations for start-up of the processing facilities have already been finalised some weeks ago with the initial introduction of so-called sweet gas from the Makat gas grid. Employing sulphur-free gas is a critical step before real gas and fluids from the production wells are entered into the system. Along with the sweet gas introduction, the flare at the plant was ignited.

Over the course of 2013/14, production will be progressively ramped up to the design capacity from 180 000 bpd in the first stage to 370 000 bpd in the second stage.

This production capacity reflects only the first phase of development; Kashagan and the neighbouring fields in the North Caspian Sea hold estimated reserves of some 35 billion bbls. of oil in place and future development projects bear the potential to significantly increase production volumes and position Kashagan as an important contributor to the world energy market.

Kashagan Facts & Figures 

  • Kazakhstan

Current Oil production: 1.6 million bpd (2012). Planned: 1.9 million bpd (2015); 2.6 million bpd (2020).

  • Kashagan

NOM Since January 2009 NCOC assumed the NCSPSA operatorship on behalf of KazMunayGas, Eni, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, ConocoPhillips, INPEX.

Execution of operations is delegated to 4 agent companies: Agip KCO, Shell Development Kashagan, ExxonMobil Kazakhstan Inc., NCPOC (JV of KMG-K and Shell Development Kashagan).

  • Location

80 km offshore Atyrau in the northern part of the Caspian Sea, spans an area of 75 by 45 km (5600 sq km); water depth 3 - 6 m; 4200 m below the seabed.

  • History

NCSPSA signed 1997; discovery declared in 2000; declaration of commerciality in 2004; NCOC Operatorship since 2009.

  • Reservoir

35 billion bbls of oil in place with 9 to 13 billion bbls being recoverable; highly pressured (770 bar of initial pressure); the reservoir fluids contain approx. 15% of H2S, 4 % CO2 

  • Phase 1 Status

Onshore construction is completed and Bolashak Processing Facilities have been pressurized with sweet gas; offshore construction is approaching completion.

  • HSE performance

HSE Consortium remains at a high grade with a TRIR* of 0.96/1M-hrs (May 2013, avg. last 12 months) with 49.9 Mmh worked. HSE remains the priority during startup and production.

  • Production Vols.

Plans are the following: Initial production 180 000 b/d from 20 wells, ramping up to 370 000 with gas re-injection.

  •  Drilling

40 wells in total are planned for Phase 1 of the project; 20 wells have been drilled down to the reservoir; 11 wells were partly drilled and will be finalised shortly; 9 wells still have to be drilled.

  • Costs So far

 US $ 40.6 billion have been invested in Kashagan Phase 1.

  • Start of production

Anticipated for second half 2013.

  •  Startup sequence

Mechanical completion; commissioning; pressurization with Nitrogen and/or sweet gas; start of production from the reservoir; ramp up of production volumes to design capacity. Start up will commence at Bolashak, followed by A Island and D Island.

  • Manpower

At peak time in 2010: > 42 000 people (including contractors). April 2013: 18 618 staff (including contractor staff).

  • Social & Infrastructure Projects

Between 1998 and 2012, 146 projects were completed for a total cost of US$ 325 million.

  • Goods, Work & Services (GWS)

Between 2006 and Q2 2013 the Consortium spent more than US$ 9 billion on local goods, work and services.


‘Did you know’ facts:


D Island

  • 13 million t of rock and more than 200 000 t of concrete were used for construction.
  • 107 000 t of equipment was installed on islands, which is two times more than the weight of steel structures of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalif in Dubai.
  • More than 510 km of oil and gas pipelines have been laid.
  • 353 000 m2 of insulation has been deployed at Bolashak – equal to some 50 football pitches.
  • The total length of piles deployed is approx. 600 km – equal to the distance between London and Paris. 


  • 150 000 m3 of concrete was used in the construction of the processing plant – equivalent of two Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur
  • 60 000 tonnes of structural steel was used (eight times the Eiffel Tower).



Adapted from a press release by David Bizley

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