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Vol. 15, No. 32 Week of August 08, 2010
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Eni modules reach site

Sealift for Nikaitchuq production facilities has arrived off Oliktok Point

Alan Bailey

Petroleum News

Two large modules for Eni Petroleum’s Nikaitchuq oilfield production facilities have arrived off the central North Slope, the company told Petroleum News Aug. 2.

“Both of the modules, the processing facilities and utilities modules, weigh roughly 4,000 tons each and were loaded on two barges along with other small modules and miscellaneous structural components and departed from Louisiana on June 1st , 2010,” the company said. “The modules arrived off Oliktok Point on July 29th.”

The barges completed the final stage of their journey after spending several days off Barrow, at the western end of the Beaufort Sea, waiting for sea ice conditions to improve, Eni said. The company plans to offload the modules onto the Nikaitchuq surface site at Oliktok Point within seven days, in preparation for mechanical completion, functional checkout and commissioning of all facilities.

Onshore initially

Nikaitchuq crude oil, to be produced initially from onshore wells at Oliktok Point but later also from wells on a manmade offshore island, will be the first North Slope production not processed through facilities operated by either BP or ConocoPhillips.

“Everything is moving forward as planned for first oil around the beginning of 2011,” Eni said. “Of course, any number of variables could impact that timeline, but at this point the Nikaitchuq development is on schedule.”

Eni had originally planned field startup for December 2009 but early in that year, faced with issues including plunging oil prices, poor economic conditions and hurricane-related fabrication delays, the company slowed the Nikaitchuq development down from what the company characterized as “an accelerated pace of development” to a more normal pace, thus delaying anticipated first oil from the field by about a year.

And development of the field has moved ahead steadily.

In addition to the massive modules that needed transportation by barge, Eni has been transporting smaller modules and other equipment to the North Slope by truck, with truckable modules being constructed in Anchorage. Modules associated with the onshore Oliktok Point component of the project started shipping in December 2008 and will continue arriving until September of this year, Eni said. The most important of the offshore truckable modules will be moved on site before the end of the 2011 ice-road season, the company said.

“Currently more than 90 percent of the onshore truckable modules are in place,” Eni said.

The offshore site consists of an 11-acre gravel drilling pad 3.8 miles offshore, on the inner shore of Spy Island just north of Oliktok Point.

In 2009 Eni trenched a pipeline bundle into the seafloor, between the offshore island and Oliktok Point. And on April 13 of this year the company completed the 10-inch export pipeline from the Oliktok Point site, to deliver Nikaitchuq production to the Kuparuk pipeline for transportation to pump station 1 of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

“An associated 13.8-kilovolt power cable and a communications cable to the tie-in module at the Kuparuk pipeline were completed on May 6, 2010,” Eni said. “Final tie-ins and commissioning of the pipeline will be before year end.”

And the company has awarded ATCO a contract for the installation of the on-site camp to house personnel at Oliktok Point.

The 180 million barrel Nikaitchuq field contains two distinct oil pools — light oil in a relatively deep, poor quality Sag River reservoir and a larger accumulation of more viscous oil in the shallower Schrader Bluff formation.

To develop the field, Eni plans to directionally drill seven production wells and eight injection wells from Oliktok Point, and to drill 24 production wells and 24 injection wells from the offshore island. All of these wells would target the Schrader Bluff, with three additional offshore wells potentially targeting the Sag River.

Horizontal injector wells in the Schrader Bluff will inject water to flush oil towards horizontal production wells.

Eni is going to use an existing Oliktok Point test well as an initial injector, together with a production well that had been drilled prior to Eni taking a 100 percent interest in the field in 2007. More recently Nabors rig 245E has been busily drilling at Oliktok, completing another producer well and one disposal well in 2009. So far in 2010 the rig has completed one water source well and two more producers.

Offshore drilling is scheduled to begin in September 2011.

Disposal wells

Disposal wells will enable the disposal of almost all Nikaitchuq non-hazardous waste by injecting the waste into a non-hydrocarbon bearing underground rock reservoir, several thousand feet below any potential drinking water sources, Eni said. This is a much better waste disposal system than the use of landfills — landfill waste has the potential to seep into otherwise drinkable water or into fish-bearing water bodies, the company said.

Eni, one of the world’s largest oil companies, also has leases on the North Slope at North Tarn and Maggiore, and offshore in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. The company has been working with Shell to collect some 3-D seismic data on joint-venture leases in Harrisons Bay, in the Beaufort Sea outer continental shelf.

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