Qatar's largest offshore oil field Al Shaheen is likely to see a massive investment of over 3bn that facilitates both production as well as reserve boost by 2008/2009, Second Deputy Premier HE Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah has said.
Qatar Petroleum and Al Shaheen operator Maersk Oil Qatar are currently exploring the prospects of additional investment in the oilfield, which al-Attiyah said, "seems very likely".
"A decision is expected by the year-end and I am really optimistic about it," he said.
The additional investment in the oilfield, some 180km north of Doha, will mark Al Shaheen development phase-III and facilitate production boost from existing 240,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 400,000bpd.
Speaking to Gulf Times at Maersk's production facility at Block 5 in the Al Shaheen Oilfield yesterday, al-Attiyah said it was Qatar's top priority to widen its hydrocarbon resource base, oil production potential and diversify Qatar's national income and boost economy.
"Boosting oil production capacity is equally important to us as we undertake massive expansion of our LNG and GTL facilities. This is in line with the policies laid down by HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani."
Qatar's production capacity has already exceeded 850,000bpd. The state's immediate goal is to achieve a capacity of 1mn bpd, though no timeframe has been set for this.
The Second Deputy Premier said the total investment in Al Shaheen had already exceeded 2bn. Maersk Oil Qatar operates the oilfield under an exploration and production sharing agreement with QP.
"Al Shaheen is a success story today. A few years ago not many people thought the oilfield was sustainable. The oilfield was known to be hydrocarbon bearing but with a questionable potential due to geological reasons. But thanks to Maersk Oil's innovative technology and the excellent team formation of QP and Maersk, the oilfield has become Qatar's largest today," al-Attiyah pointed out.
Maersk Oil & Gas chief executive officer Thomas Thune Andersen also admitted Al Shaheen's potential was once questionable, despite it being hydrocarbon bearing. This was due to its low permeability, limited thickness and geological complexity. But with intensive use of a state-of-the-art technology, development activities got a fillip.
"Together with QP we have been able to successfully develop an asset that was previously viewed as commercially unattractive," he said.
Andersen said he remained very optimistic about Qatar.
"We have been here for more than 12 years. In every step we took we had the tremendous support and encouragement of the government and people of Qatar," he said.
So far about 3mn feet of rock formation have been drilled and five reservoir horizons, including wells reaching as far as 8km from the platforms, developed.
The Maersk chief executive officer said production and injection was in progress in some six locations in the Al Shaheen Oilfield. Eighteen platforms including process, wellhead and accommodation platforms are in operation.
The platforms are linked through 18 pipelines, which are 120km long. Power is distributed through five subsea cables, about 40km in length.
Andersen revealed some 400mn barrels of oil have already been produced at Al Shaheen in the last 12 years. Production began in 1994 and the first well was dug in 1993.
He said Al Shaheen had a potentially higher production capacity than existing level (in excess of 200,000bpd). Water injection capacity is in excess of 400,000bpd, which enhances the oil recovery from three main reservoirs.
"In the block - 5 extension area we have completed drilling of two appraisal wells and the development work required to achieve optimal utilisation of the resources is being worked out in association with QP," Andersen said.
He also said Maersk Oil Qatar eagerly awaited the Al Shaheen Field Development Plan, which could more than double the reserves and production level.