UK-headquartered energy giant BP has started drilling the first well from its operated Azeri Central East (ACE) platform in the Caspian Sea off the coast of Azerbaijan, inching closer to the first oil from the ACE project.
As part of the Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli (ACG) field development project, BP began drilling the first production well from the new Azeri Central East (ACE) platform on December 4, following the safe completion of offshore hookup, installation, and commissioning of the ACE topsides unit, which sailed away from the Bayil fabrication yard in August 2023. According to the oil major, the well is planned to reach a total depth of up to 3,188 meters. This is expected to take around three months.
Gary Jones, BP’s regional president for Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Türkiye, commented: “We are excited to commence drilling the first platform production well on ACE. This allows us to meet our first oil production target for ACE and deliver it in early 2024. A great deal of preparation has been made to assure a safe and robust drilling program using our experience, as well as our innovative approach, automated processes, and advanced technology. We look forward to delivering this first ACE production well safely, efficiently and on schedule.”
The transportation, float-over, and installation activities for the ACE topside unit were carefully planned and were completed in around two days. Afterward, the project progressed with hook-up activities, completed the initial rig skid, and achieved the operationalization of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, as well as the firewater pump, freshwater, and sewage treatment packages. Come September 13, the project achieved offshore habitation enabling to transfer of all personnel onboard the ACE platform.
By the end of the third quarter of 2023, the ACE project was 94% complete and the ACG field continued to deliver stable production, which totaled on average about 368,000 barrels per day (b/d) for the first nine months of 2023. In addition, an average of around 5.5 million cubic meters per day of ACG-associated gas was delivered in the period to the state of Azerbaijan, primarily at the Sangachal terminal but also to SOCAR’s Oil Rocks facility.
At the end of 3Q 2023, 136 oil wells were producing while 45 were used for water and eight for gas injection. During the first nine months of 2023, six oil producer, five water injector, and one gas injector wells were completed at the ACG field. BP’s $6 billion ACE project is the next stage of development of the giant Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashlifield in the Caspian Sea. This project was sanctioned in April 2019 and construction started that same year with expectations to achieve the first production in 2023.
The ACE platform is a new 48-slot production, drilling, and quarters platform located mid-way between the existing Central Azeri and East Azeri platforms in a water depth of 137 meters. This project encompasses new infield pipelines to transfer oil and gas from the ACE platform to the existing ACG Phase 2 oil and gas export pipelines for transportation to the onshore Sangachal terminal.
The project also entails a water injection pipeline between the East Azeri and ACE platforms to supply injection water from the Central Azeri compression and water injection platform to the ACE facilities, which are designed to process up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day while the project is expected to produce up to 300 million barrels over its lifetime. At peak, over 8,500 people were involved in the ACE project construction works in Azerbaijan.
According to BP, all other start-up activities and preparations required for the delivery of ACE’s first oil in early 2024 are progressing on schedule.
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