Production at Kazakhstan’s Kashagan oilfield is not expected to restart this year, after an investigation revealed that stretches of oil and gas pipelines may need to be fully replaced.
Production at the offshore deposit, the world’s largest oil find in 35 years, commenced in September 2013, however was stopped in October following the discovery of gas leaks in the project’s pipeline network, which is worth an approximate US$ 50 million.
"The current assessment, based on the results of an investigation, is that both the oil and the gas pipelines might have to be fully replaced," the consortium said.
The field's oil is located 4200 m below the seabed at very high pressure, and the associated gas reaching the surface is mixed with extremely high concentrations of toxic, hydrogen sulfide (H2S).
The multinational group of oil companies developing Kashagan has identified stress cracking due to sulfur-laden gases as "the root cause of the pipeline issues" at Kashagan.
Much of Kashagan is built on artificial islands to avoid damage from pack ice in the Caspian, which freezes for five months a year in temperatures that drop below minus 30 Celsius.
The North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) consortium includes Eni, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, China's CNPC, Japan's Inpex and Kazakh state-run KazMunaiGas.
Edited from various sources by Katie Woodward
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