Gazprom Neft subsidiary Gazpromneft-Sakhalin has started drilling an exploratory well in its Dolginskoye field, located 75km off Russia in the Pechora Sea, the operator announced today. It is the fourth well drilled at the site, after two drilled in North Dolginskoye and one in South Dolginskoye.
The GSP Saturn jackup arrived on 18 June after announcing its plans to drill an exploratory well and take core samples in late January. The rig will drill to about 3500m in water about 40m deep, and drilling operations can only take place during a few short ice-free months. In June 2013, Alexei Vashkevich, head of the Gazprom Neft Directorate of Geological Exploration and Resource Base Development, said that this area of the Pechora Sea usually froze in October.
The Dolginskoye field is planned to be brought onstream in 2020 and estimated to have more than 200 million tons of recoverable reserves. It is one of two offshore fields Gazprom Neft operates in the Arctic Shelf. The other, Prirazlomnoye, started producing in December 2013 through the Prirazlomnaya platform, the first rig to start production in the Arctic. Both operations have been highly criticized by environmentalist group Greenpeace, culminating in groups boarding both the GSP Saturn and the Prirazlomnaya platform during the two rigs' respective transits. The latter event in particular garnered national attention when the "Arctic 30" group was arrested.
Gazpromneft-Sakhalin, who has partnered with Schlumberger and Weatherford in Dolginsokye, said it has learned lessons and gained experience from the Prirazlomnoye field. For example, the GSP Saturn, refurbished in 2009, is much newer than the Prirazlomnaya platform. That platform was based on the UK North Sea Hutton tension leg platform (TLP) - the first-ever - built in the early 1980s. Gazprom Neft was audited and granted permission to drill at Dolginskoye by the Russia's environmental review board on 29 May 2013.
Gazprom makes Arctic advances (article in OE magazine)
Image: GSP Saturn/Gazprom Neft.