Prospects of Logistics of Support for Offshore Oil Operations in the Caspian Sea
Marat Ormanov, General Director of NMSK Kazmotransflot LLP
Shelf development: Kazakhstan's stage
The history of development of offshore fields has more than 140 years. Back in 1876, the Nobel brothers founded an oil company in Baku, becoming the largest oil company in the Russian Empire, and which for the first time began oil production on the Caspian shelf at the Bibi-Eibate field.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, all the world's oil powers have begun to develop offshore fields. By 1933, the United States had established oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. In the mid-1970s, the United Kingdom, Norway and Denmark, after conducting geological studies in the North sea, became owners of fairly large oil reserves, which led to the creation of multi-functional oil companies in these countries.
The development of the Caspian sea shelf in independent Kazakhstan began in 1993, when the international consortium Kazakhstancaspishelf began comprehensive geophysical studies in the Kazakhstan sector of the Caspian sea. As a result, dozens of promising structures were discovered for deep drilling, one of which is the Kashagan field, which has become the largest oil and gas field in the Caspian sea and one of the world's largest discoveries in recent decades.
It should be noted that the Caspian sea, being the world's largest closed water body, has features inherent in the sea basin. The level of the Caspian sea is 28 meters below the level of the world ocean. Different sea areas of the Kazakhstan sector of the Caspian sea have their own unique features, which significantly affects the nature of shipping. According to geological zoning, there are three main oil and gas basins at the bottom of the Caspian sea, namely:
- North Caspian;
- Middle Caspian;
- South Caspian.
The North Caspian Project (NCP), implemented by a consortium of foreign companies in partnership with the national company KazMunayGas, is the first major offshore oil and gas development project in Kazakhstan. The NCP is the largest and most important oil and gas project for the Kazakhstani economy, which gave impetus to many related industries, including the development of domestic shipping.
Development of Kashagan is also one of the largest and most complex industry projects in the world, taking into account the complexities in the field of industrial safety, design, logistics, combined with the harsh environmental conditions at sea. The project works address unique and complex technical challenges and coordinate the supply chain in harsh environmental conditions at sea, where temperatures can fall below -30°C in winter and rise to +40°C in summer. Due to the low level of mineralization in combination with shallow water (3-4 meters) and subarctic climate, the Northern Caspian sea is covered with ice about 5 months a year.
During the implementation of the project, its operators imported and built more than 60 vessels, which had no analogues in Kazakhstan. Among them different types of support vessels, accommodation barges and other vessels of the ice-breaking class.
As part of its participation in the NCP, Kazmortransflot implemented an investment project involving the construction of 13 new vessels (5 tugs + 8 barges), which actively participated in the transportation of rock for the dumping of artificial islands during 2005-2010.