Azerbaijan’s mature oilfields are depleting. To stop this decline, production must be stabilised by assessing the potential of the wells and the areas where oil recovery methods such as artificial lift and chemical injections can be effective.

Eldar MAHARRAMOV General Manager Oil & Gas Proserv

in figures

Depths of offshore gas and condensate fields found in Azerbaijan:Up to 7,000 metres

Portion of oil produced from mature fields worldwide:More than 70 percent

Improve Azerbaijan’s oilfields

December 24, 2015

Eldar Maharramov, general director of Oil & Gas Proserv, speaks to TOGY about production issues in Azerbaijan’s oilfields and the techniques that can be used to stabilise oil production in the country. Established in 2005, Oil & Gas Proserv is a joint venture between UK technical services provider Nobel Oil, German engineering company Siemens and SOCAR that provides enhanced oil recovery services in Azerbaijan.

How can declining production at Azerbaijan’s oilfields be reversed?
Azerbaijan has some very mature onshore oilfields that have been producing for more than 100 years, where reservoir pressure is very low. Many of these fields have a very high water cut. The fields also produce a lot of sand, which can damage equipment.
Producers spend energy and money pumping water and sand out of the ground. Sand and water must be treated and disposed of properly so that they do not to harm the environment and this represents an additional cost. Not all artificial lift methods work properly in this environment, so adequate ways to increase oil production and reduce water and sand production are needed.
Installing progressive cavity pumps to stimulate production and looking at what models may better fit the problems here is a possible answer, combined with some methodologies and chemicals to block water production. Gas lift systems could also be optimised to reduce the amount of gas injected and produce as much oil while also freeing up gas volumes for sales. Oilfield services companies have to come up with inventive ideas for SOCAR so additional oil can be brought to the surface.
This can be done at low cost, without big investments, using the existing field infrastructure and assets.

What can be done to increase production in mature oilfields?
More than 70 percent of the oil produced in the world comes from mature fields. If you manage to increase the recovery coefficient from these oilfields by 5 percent, this is equivalent to discovering and developing many new fields.
Azerbaijan’s mature oilfields are depleting, and the situation is the same in other Caspian countries such as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. To stop this decline, production must be stabilised by assessing the potential of the wells and the areas where oil recovery methods such as artificial lift and chemical injections can be effective.
Digital tools have become important. Specific software can help analyse a field’s history, develop models and maximise production design. It can also help understand the functioning of pumps, gas lift systems, and build and compare different scenarios. Oilfield services companies can team up with technology providers to support SOCAR and other smaller operators. There will be more opportunities once the price of oil goes up, as digital tools require investment.


What types of enhanced oil recovery methods are of particular use in Azerbaijan?
Chemicals that can be used to shut off water production or to manage sand flow could be of great interest for Azerbaijan. These types of chemicals can be combined with other chemicals that stimulate oil production to increase overall recovery.
The main factor in implementing this type of method is the cost. In a field that produces thousands of barrels per day, much better quality and costly chemicals can be implemented because the payback time will be shorter. In a field that produces less than 100 barrels per day, this is less economically viable and sometimes not even profitable. A different approach is necessary for each and every field in the country, to tailor specific methods and find the balance between costs and quality. Overall, operators need to think over the medium term when implementing these measures. Everyone is interested in this type of production in the country because depletion is everybody’s problem, from small to large producers.

What geological challenges exist in the Caspian Basin?
The region is divided in different oil and gas basins. In the north Caspian Basin, there are mainly carbonate fields such as the Kashagan and Tengiz fields in Kazakhstan. In Azerbaijan, reservoirs are essentially composed of sandstones, and gas-condensate fields and found at depths of up to 7,000 metres, such as Shah Deniz, Absheron and Umid. At these depths, the pressure is very high.
Even though we do not have high temperature problems, we need special tools and drilling equipment to tackle this pressure. Azerbaijan’s hydrocarbons fields have very low hydrogen sulphide content, unlike Tengiz and Kashagan, so the environment is less challenging in the south Caspian.

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