In March 2010 the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) announced that was to undertake a challenging heavy crude development project, to boost national production from the North as the giant Burgan field in the South passes maturity into decline.
Oil & Gas Middle East caught up with Hosnia S. Hashim, Deputy Managing Director for North Kuwait (NK) at KOC.
O&G: NK aimed to complete a 200-well drilling program for heavy crude development in 2011. Have things gone to plan?
The plan for drilling associated with KOC Heavy Oil development was indeed initially encompassing the drilling of 200 wells. We surpassed this number, reaching a total of 537 wells drilled in this area, 258 of them drilled in 2011.
One of these wells was the 2nd longest shallow well drilled in the world, with a horizontal section of 1,602 feet and careful preplanning and geomechanics studies that allowed for the most efficient design to prevent problems with artificial lift.
Several thermal and non-thermal pilots have been commissioned and the results so far are encouraging, setting a technological roadmap for our plans in the production of this important and strategic reserve. The North Kuwait Heavy Oil Project is progressing rapidly, and the first commercial quantity of heavy oil crude will be available in 2016/2017.
The main challenges in this project are related to a shortage of thermal-process expertise within KOC. We are focused now on hiring additions to our workforce with the necessary knowledge and skills.
O&G: How much oil is North Kuwait producing today?
We have been able to sustain production that rounds up to 700,000 bpd. This production reflects the importance of North Kuwait for Kuwait Oil Company, as one of its most active assets in terms of growth and activity.
North Kuwait (NK) encompasses several of the main oil fields of Kuwait, and some of the most complex ones.
O&G: How is North Kuwait’s contribution to the national production target of 4 million bpd by 2020 progressing?
North Kuwait is and will continue to be a key player in Kuwait’s production of oil, currently contributing to the overall production with an important 24%, which will grow over time. NK will certainly have the capacity to contribute to meet the production targets of KOC following a detailed plan put together in our 2030 strategy, with 1 million barrels of oil per day by 2016.
With very complex oil fields, in terms of geologic complexity, fluids composition, and surface network facilities, the endeavor is not easy, and we are working to plan and initiate the necessary actions and infrastructure constructions to be ready on time.
O&G: Kuwait is producing over 3 million bpd, which is at or near capacity. Can this last?
Kuwait is very blessed in many senses. First, the people we have to handle our oil & gas industry are committed to excellence, and they work closely with the best experts KOC brings from all over the world to achieve our production goals. In other aspects, Kuwait is also blessed with huge reserves of oil.
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Kuwait Oil Company is closely following KPC guidelines and consequently, planning to increment substantially its production capacity. North Kuwait Asset will follow these plans and will be ready to meet the challenge.
O&G: Who are your key partners in NK at the moment? How important has it been to learn from other heavy oil projects internationally?
KOC works with many important Kuwaiti, multinational and service companies, some of which currently partnership with us in North Kuwait. Other key player in our plans are of course Kuwait University and the Kuwait Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET), which provide the Kuwaiti oil industry with qualified professional and technical level personnel for our industry.
We constantly engage in benchmarking processes, and have liaised with different countries, companies and organizations that produce heavy oil all over the world, learning from them and expediting our learning curve.
O&G: How is KOC-NK meeting the challenge of hiring and training the next generation of upstream industry engineers and managers?
KOC sets its recruitment and training levels according to its needs. The company has expanded its workforce, and NK is no exception. I am proud to lead a truly multicultural workforce of highly-skilled professionals.
It is a fact, though, that the engineers and technical people supplied by Kuwait University and the Kuwait Public Authority for Applied Education and Training are not enough to meet NK demand in terms of the numbers and skills needed.
As a result, we are implementing aggressive recruitment, retention and training plans to meet our requirements to be able to execute the strategy and production targets envisioned for North Kuwait.
KOC NK is addressing this matter very seriously and taking steps to face this vast challenge.
O&G: Looking ahead to the Kuwait Oil & Gas Conference, what are the key highlights, and what excites you about Kuwait’s oil industry at the moment?
I am glad to be part of the Kuwait oil industry in years when we have created substantial production growth and a detailed strategy for 2030, sustained by our own efforts and vision, following the State of Kuwait goals set by the KPC.
I am proud of the excellent technical implementations and studies that we have reached nowadays.
What I probably like the most is to witness the professional improvement of new generations of Kuwaiti engineers who will shape our leadership in the years ahead.
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