An exploration well drilled by a joint venture between Rosneft and BP in the summer of 2004 was the first success after a long period of no exploration activity. It represented a step out into a new and untested exploration play.

Wells in Sakhalin involve a permitting cycle that lasts for 7 months and a logistical supply chain that extends 3,500 miles back to Singapore, Figure 1. The sea ice-free weather window lasts from late June until mid-November, with severe storms building from September onwards. Environmental restrictions stipulate that all mud and cuttings from below the 30" conductor, even though the well may be drilled with a water-based mud, cannot be discharged to the environment and must be recovered for disposal.

The team overcame a wide range of organisational, logistical, regulatory, environmental and technical challenges to drill the well in the summer of 2004. Despite the highly compressed schedule, the operation was conducted with no harm to people or damage to the environment. The lessons learned were consolidated and formed the basis for a successful season in 2005 with a different rig.

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