Technologies for Russian Arctic Exploration and Development
- Jim Zimmerman (ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company) | Daniel Fenz (ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company) | Jed Hamilton (ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company)
- Document ID
- World Petroleum Congress
- 21st World Petroleum Congress, 15-19 June, Moscow, Russia
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2014. World Petroleum Council
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- 139 since 2007
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Exploration and production of hydrocarbon resources in the offshore Russian Arctic are challenged by a harsh environment including the presence of sea ice, icebergs, permafrost, low temperatures and extended periods of darkness. Remoteness, accessibility, logistics and limited infrastructure make activities even more challenging. A combination of advanced technologies and flawless execution are required to successfully develop Russian Arctic oil and natural gas resources safely and economically.
The location of the initial exploration opportunity will determine the type of drilling rig required. Depending on the water depth, a bottom-founded structure or a floating drilling system with appropriate ice defense/ice management will be utilized to conduct drilling. The large demands imposed by ice loading are handled differently by each system – a bottom-founded structure must be sized to provide sufficient capacity to resist the imposed demands whereas floating systems must incorporate both equipment and operational practices to facilitate more frequent well suspension and vessel disconnection.
In some areas, the ice-free season can be long enough to allow the use of conventional offshore drilling rigs with ice defense systems for exploration drilling. However, in many areas, the ice-free season is so short that vessels will need some degree of ice capability in order to safely and economically meet exploration drilling targets. Furthermore, economic development drilling of a large number of wells will require that the ability to safely drill year-round be developed.
If exploration drilling is successful, the ultimate selection of the production concept will also be driven by water depth and ice conditions in addition to other design factors. Remote subsea technology will be an enabler for continuous production under the ice in deepwater.
This paper will illustrate the required integration across a suite of technologies to enable safe and reliable operations in support of offshore Russian Arctic exploration and production. Technical advancements and ongoing research will also be highlighted with a focus on the importance of conducting and incorporating the learnings of Russian Arctic field programs.
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