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№ 9 (September 2007)
Reprinted from Rosneft Magazine, Issue #3, 2007
Sergei BACHIN is Rosneft’s Director of the Department of Geological Surveys and Licensing. Here he talks about issues related to finding new reserves.
Rosneft Magazine: Mr. Bachin, there are usually two main questions that people ask specialists in geological research at oil companies: “where?” and “how much?” Where are you looking for answers to these questions in 2007, and how much oil and gas will you be adding to Rosneft’s existing reserves?
Sergei Bachin: The company’s primary task with regard to geological surveys is to increase reserves by at least 140 million tons of oil and 113 bcm of gas, which will ensure that the reserves replacement ratio is 100 percent. That defines our more specific plans in 2007 – to discover at least one more oilfield on the shelf of Sakhalin Island; to begin exploratory drilling in the blocks adjacent to the Vankor field; to begin geological surveys in the Irkutsk Region; to continue studying the deeper but promising deposits in the Khanty-Mansiysk and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Districts and, finally, to support production levels by making new discoveries in the country’s southern regions.
This year, we plan to drill 105,000 meters of exploratory wells, to conduct 15,900 linear kilometers of 2D seismic surveys and 7,400 sq. kilometers of 3D seismic surveys. We have assigned RUR 19.1 billion to finance these geological surveys. I would like to add that we have fully executed all the plans we made for the first half of 2007. We carried out 56,000 meters of exploratory drilling, carried out almost 6,000 linear kilometers of 2D seismic surveys and 1,346 sq. kilometers of 3D seismic surveys. As a result, we managed to increase reserves by over 20 million tons. Total expenditures on geological surveys were over RUR 4.8 billion.
RM: Could you describe in greater detail your work in both traditional and new strategic oil producing regions? What results have you managed to obtain so far?
Bachin: In the traditional oil producing regions, geological surveys are directed toward additional exploration at developed fields that are already producing, as well as toward the search for new promising horizons and associ-ated satellite fields. For example, in the Timano-Pechora province, we are continuing to drill exploratory wells at the Vorgamusyur field. If we obtain positive results there, the company’s resource base in this region will increase by a minimum of 30-40 million tons. At Yuganskneftegaz, we have carried out additional exploration of deeper Jurassic horizons and have already confirmed that they are commercially significant, with well flows ranging from 30-80 tons per day. The increase in reserves at these sites in 2007 alone will exceed 10 million tons.
As far as the new regions are concerned, we have started conducting geological surveys at the licensed blocks in the Irkutsk Region and plan to drill three exploratory wells at the Vankor field. Exploratory well No. 13r is now being tested. The Nkh1 stratum has produced spurts of oil and a flow of 200 tons per day. The results from testing the stratum have enabled us to refine the point of oil-water contact, which has became considerably lower, making it possible to increase the stratum’s potential to 15-20 mil-lion tons. Another two exploratory wells are now being drilled. Near the Vankor field, the company has conducted a large volume of seismic surveys at our licensed blocks – more than 2,000 linear kilometers in total. Drilling on an exploratory well at the West-Lodochny elevation has been completed. Results suggest the presence of oil-saturated collectors in the deposits of the Nkh3-4 stratum. In addition, 2007 will see the drilling of two additional exploratory wells, one in the northern licensed blocks (Baykalovskaya) and one in the south (Polar).
In July, we began conducting 3D seismic surveys on 1,000 sq. kilometers at the Tuapse Trough on the shelf of the Black Sea. We are also continuing with exploratory drilling at the Novaya (New) structure on the shelf of the Sea of Azov.
Finally, there is Sakhalin. Here, within the framework of the shelf projects, Rosneft plans 600 meters of exploratory drilling and 4,300 sq. kilometers of 3D seismic surveys. We have also begun seismic survey work and exploratory drilling at the Medved (Bear) structure of the West-Schmitovsky block.
RM: What geological survey work is the company carrying out abroad, in Algeria and Kazakhstan?
Bachin: In Algeria, we have finished drilling the TEN2 well. The results have made it possible to more precisely define the geological structure of the Northern Takuazet oilfield and prepare a report on the amount of reserves to present to the Algerian authorities. At the Kurmangazy structure in Kazakhstan, we are carrying out large additional volumes of seismic surveys, schedules and electrical prospecting, work makes it possible to more closely determine the position of the exploratory wells which we plan to drill in 2008.
RM: What are Rosneft’s plans for 2007 with regard to licensing?
Bachin: The company intends to play an active role in auctions to acquire licenses in the regions where it operates: the region surrounding the Vankor field, Irkutsk Region, the Khanty-Mansiysk, Nenets and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Districts, as well as the Krasnodar Territory. In the first six months of 2007, Rosneft obtained licenses to the Lebedinsky block on the shelf of Sakhalin, to the deeper horizons at the Lempinsky block at Yuganskneftegaz and two licenses at Samaraneftegaz.
RM: Is it possible to see geological surveys as examples of successful collaboration between the company and its foreign partners – not only in Algeria and Kazakhstan, which we have already mentioned, but also at Russian oil and gas fields?
Bachin: Yes, I think it is possible, especially if we are talking about the kind of work that has developed on the shelf of Sakhalin, where cooperation is based on clear and well-defined relations between the partners. And one of the really necessary conditions is that the partner brings advanced technologies to both geological survey work and the environment. In particular, the effectiveness of our cooperation with BP on the Sakhalin-4 and Sakhalin-5 projects has been amply confirmed by the results of our joint work, namely the discovery of the Kayganskoye offshore oilfield. Similar work has now begun in cooperation with Shell.
RM: How important is this international experience for geological surveys?
Bachin: Very important. Obviously, international experience is important at every stage of oil and gas production. But with regard to exploration, the company uses all the latest technologies that are available and in use all over the world. And in all priority projects we also draw upon the leading international service companies such as Schlum-berger, GGG, PGC and others.
RM: What about Rosneft’s own scientific facilities – how do they help you nowadays?
Bachin: Our scientific support for geological surveys comes from Rosneft ’s Corporate Scientific and Technical Center, which manages and coordinates the activity of the company’s oil and gas institutes in each region. My colleagues at these institutes know the particular geological features of their regions, so they can choose the optimal technologies. To give you an example, we always use modeling processes to forecast how much oil and gas is present before we start to drill exploratory wells on the shelf, which considerably reduces the risks of drilling unproductive wells. The widespread application of 3D seismic surveys recently is another example, as the use of 3D technology has enabled us to reduce the number of dry wells. And when we start surveys in regions where little research has been carried out before, we use “easy” methods initially, such as geochemistry and gel surveys, which are methods that optimize the process of geological surveys in terms of both time and cost.
Sergei Bachin, Rosneft’s Director of the Department of Geological Surveys. Born in 1962. 1985 – graduated from the Tyumen Industrial Institute with a degree in Geology and Research of Oil and Gas Fields. 1985–1997 – worked at Yuganskneftegaz, where he rose from geologist of the oil and gas production department at Yuganskneft to chief geologist and deputy head of the oil and gas production department at Pravdinskneft. 2000–2005 – deputy manager and head geologist at the executive office of Tomskneft. From 2005 – works at Rosneft. Author of 10 academic articles. Honorable Worker of the Oil Industry. Married, with son and daughter.