Autumn 1998 (6.3)
Istiglal Drilling Rig Rebuilt for Shah Daniz
Dedication Ceremony on September 2, 1998 for the upgrading of the Shelf-5 drilling rig which is now called "Istiglal" (Independence).
The first exploration well selected for the Shah Daniz contract area, SDX-1, is one of the deepest and most complex wells ever to be drilled by a western operator in the south Caspian. The well is expected to be drilled to a target depth of 6,500m. Pressures are expected to be very high, in excess of 10,000 p.s.i. Previous drilling operations have revealed numerous geo-hazards in the structure.
To begin drilling SDX-1, the semi-submersible drilling rig Dada Gorgud was used in accordance with the Rig Club Utilization Program. The top hole was finished on August 9, reaching a depth of 2550m.
Since the Dada Gorgud is not capable of drilling deeper into the reservoir, plans have been made for the remaining work to be done by the "Istiglal" (pronounced is-ti-GLAL, meaning Independence) semi-submersible drilling rig, formerly known as Shelf 5. Drilling will begin by the end of October, with plans to reach final depths of approximately 6100m by early 1999.
First however, this rig, owned by SOCAR, had to be upgraded to meet the demanding Shah Daniz requirements. It has now received the most extensive refurbishment program of existing marine facilities in the Caspian. More than 2 million man-hours were spent on its refurbishment; 80 percent of this workforce was Azerbaijani. The rebuilding program cost an estimated $210 million with an additional $14 million spent on upgrading the KMNF shipyard facilities.
On September 2, President Heydar Aliyev presided over the ceremony which recognized the near completion of this giant project and which renamed the rebuilt rig Istiglal. Mike Shearman, President of the Shah Daniz project, said, "The rebuilding of Istiglal has been the most ambitious and extensive work of this type undertaken in Azerbaijan to date, and today's renaming ceremony is the culmination of a significant amount of work undertaken by a strong and dedicated workforce to whom we owe a great deal of thanks. May Istiglal deliver the results to create the Independence that the people of Azerbaijan deserve." After President Aliyev addressed the group, he christened the rig with a bottle of champagne.
Shah Daniz is the offshore exploration area awarded to the Shah Daniz Partners and governed by the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) which was signed on June 4, 1996 and ratified later that year on October 17. The Shah Daniz partnership comprises seven foreign oil companies-SOCAR (Azerbaijan), Statoil (Norway), Elf (France), LUKAgip (Russian-Italian), OIEC (Iran), TPAO (Turkey) and BP Exploration (UK) as Operator.
The prospect is situated in the South Caspian Sea, offshore Azerbaijan, approximately 70km southeast of Baku in water depths ranging from 50m in the northwest to 600m in the southeast. The contract area covers an area of approximately 860 sq km. Reserve estimates range from 1.5 to 3 billion barrels of oil (250 to 500 million tons) and 2 to 4 trillion cubic feet of gas (50 to 100 billion cubic meters).
From Azerbaijan International (6.3) Autumn 1998.
© Azerbaijan International 1998. All rights reserved.
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