Pioneer Natural Resources successfully hydrotested the Oooguruk project flow line a couple weeks ago. Ice-out should be happening soon, so all equipment has been moved off the ice. Nabors rig 19 has been rehabbed and set up on the island to start production drilling, with first production oil expected in 2008. It will be interesting to see how drilling goes, as there are a couple unique issues.
One is that the drill bores are set at roughly 10 foot intervals, which is pretty dang close and may make for space issues for the rig (and also for maintenance issues later on). The trend towards smaller pads and tighter well spacings, while it looks good from an environmental perspective, is getting to the point where safety and maintenance issues are coming to the forefront. The newer pads are are very tight and crowded with equipment, and as well spacing decreases, the probability of a problem like a kickback or blowout affecting multiple wells increases.
The other issue is that the entire drill room is a lined secondary containment, which is a pretty slick deal. I would expect to see more operators adopting this technique, particularly since the revisions to 18 AAC 75.045(d) now require impermeable wellhead sumps.
Roughly 110 truckable modules were brought in as part of the project, including more than 70 from New Iberia in south Louisiana. The Louisiana modules were trucked to Seattle, barged to Valdez and trucked to the slope. The hotel modules had their plumbing hydrotested before shipment, but the manufacturer failed to drain the water before shipping. The leftover water froze when the modules got to Alaska, bursting pipes and seriously damaging the interiors, necessitating rebuilding on site. They were also not sufficiently insulated against the cold. Maybe contracting out arctic housing to a firm in Louisiana was not a good idea.
The flow line bundle consists of a 12-inch multi-phase line to carry production from the island to shore; the 12-inch line is within a 16-inch pipe that provides secondary containment. The bundle also includes an 8-inch water line to take water to the island for injection to maintain reservoir pressure, a 6-inch line to carry natural gas for enhanced oil recovery and a 2-inch Arctic heating fuel line.
The offshore drill site is an artificial island about 5.7 miles from the shoreline. The flow line bundle is buried for that length and then goes another 2.4 miles to Pioneer’s onshore pad.