The Majnoon Field was discovered in 1976 and brought online in 2002 by the Iraq South Oil Company (SOC). In December 2009, during the Ministry of Oil's 2nd Petroleum Licensing Round, Shell won the right to develop the field under a Development and Production Services Contract. Shell Iraq Petroleum Development BV (SIPD) became operator for the Majnoon Field (45%), with partners Petronas Carigali (30%) and Missan Oil Company (25%).

In September 2013, first oil from the combination of newly built and the refurbished existing facilities & wells, was established. In accordance with the terms of the contract, a minimum average flow rate of 175k bpd over a period of 90 days was achieved in order to meet the First Commercial Production (FCP) target and thus allow Shell to begin cost recovery.

This paper will be based on Shell's experience executing the Majnoon field development in South Iraq. The project scope was completed in challenging circumstances, with very little subsurface information available to confirm design assumptions. As a result, a number of execution risks were transferred to the commissioning & initial start-up operations. The team ultimately relied on experience, planned contingencies and intelligent workarounds to achieve the FCP production target.

The key startup challenges will be discussed in this paper that are relevant to the audience, particularly those involved in field start-up & operations. Conclusions will relate to how the team overcame flow instabilities (slugging) from daisy chained pipelines (linking the multiple wellpads), crude foaming in the process facilities, welding debris in the flare system, dealing with export curtailment (process stops and re-starts) and establishing custody transfer measurement with SOC.

In addition, this paper will present a selected number of Majnoon lessons learned during the commissioning & startup period and how Shell improves Project Delivery in subsequent projects to achieve Flawless Startups to meet the original project premises of safe, reliable production under specified costs and schedule constraints.

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