Russian national Rosneft and private oil giant Lukoil have started drilling appraisal well №. 1 at the Caspian Oil Co.-operated Ribachya structure in the North Caspian project license. Total prospective resources of the block are estimated at 1.9 billion bo and more than 55Bcm of gas.
The aim of the well is to survey geological structures and determine hydrocarbon presence and potential. The planned drilling depth is 1650m, with operations to be performed by Eurasia Drilling Co.’s Astra jackup, which can drill wells up to 5000m deep in 45m of water.
Lukoil operates the rig, and has previously posted a successful campaign in the area with Astra. As part of a state program to study the Caspian Shelf, Lukoil carried geological and geophysical surveys in the North and Central Caspian Sea. Lukoil started exploratory drilling in the area with Astra in 1999, going on to find six oil and gas fields over the next six years, including the Vladimir Filanovsky oil and gas field – at that time, the largest Russian oil field (by reserves) discovery in 20 years.
As a result of that string of discoveries, Lukoil said that its exploration drilling success in the Caspian in close to 100%.
Both Lukoil and Rosneft have said that more prospects have been identified in the North Caspian licensed block. Rosneft says that of the 10 prospective structures identified, the largest are West-Rakushechnaya, Karaiskaya, Ukatnaya, Zhestkaya, and East-Ukatnaya.
The Caspian Oil Company is comprised of three Russian companies; Rosneft acquired its 49.892% share in 2007. Lukoil holds another 49.862% share, with Gazprom rounding out the consortium with .216%.
Rosneft and Lukoil announced in April 2011 a long-term coorperation agreement to explore the Black and Caspian seas.
Image of Astra from Lukoil.