Drilling modules in place on 48-slot Caspian Sea ACE platform

Aug. 16, 2022
Two drilling modules have been transported, jacked and skidded onto the new ACE topsides deck for the $6 billion Azeri Central East (ACE) project.

Offshore staff

BAKU, Azerbaijan  Two drilling modules have been transported, jacked and skidded onto the new ACE topsides deck for the $6 billion Azeri Central East (ACE) project, bp announced July 28.

This is the latest phase of the Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli (ACG) field development in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea, operated by bp.

The 48-slot drilling and quarters platform and associated facilities will process up to 100,000 bbl/d of oil and should start operations in 2023, producing up to 300 MMbbl over the platform’s lifetime.

It is the first major investment decision by the ACG partnership since the extension of the ACG production sharing agreement (PSA) to 2049 was agreed in 2017. According to bp, the partners have spent more than $36 billion developing the ACG area since the original PSA was signed in 1994.

The ACE platform is positioned mid-way between the existing Central Azeri and East Azeri platforms in about 140 m of water.

Other facilities will include new infield pipelines to transfer oil and gas from the platform to the ACG Phase 2 oil and gas export pipelines for onward delivery to the Sangachal Termina, and a new water injection pipeline between the East Azeri and ACE platforms, supplying injection water from the Central Azeri compression and water injection platform to the ACE facilities.

The new Modular Drilling Support Module (MDSM) and Drilling Equipment Set (DES) for the ACE platform were fabricated on the ground at the yard in Bibi-Heybat prior to the start of the jack and skid operation.

The MDSM weighs 2,350 metric tons and measures 43 m long, 20 m wide and 20 m high, while the DES is 2,400 metric tons, 32 m long, 22 m wide and 80 m high.

Neal Phillips, ACE project general manager, said, "This was a complex operation and a first for bp in the Caspian.

“During the operation, self-propelled modular trailers were installed underneath the modules to transport them to the main jacking position adjacent to the topsides deck. The modules were then jacked up by incrementally installing steel cassettes to reach the final height of around 27 m.

“Hydraulic rams were used to skid the modules onto the topsides deck before set-down at their final locations. We…achieved this unique milestone safely and ahead of schedule. It allowed us to commence commissioning at grade ahead of the integration of the module."

Cathal Kelly, bp’s vice president of projects for the Azerbaijan, Georgia, Türkiye region, Egypt and Oman, added, “Completion of this activity is the result of nearly four years of engineering and fabrication work in close collaboration with a group of ACE project contractors including Azfen, NOV, SOCAR-KBR and Mammoet.”

The overall ACE construction and commissioning activities are currently at peak with about 75% of the project completed and roughly 5,000 people across Baku, Europe and the UK, most of them Azerbaijani nationals.

ACG delivered on average 12 Mcm/d of associated gas to Azerbaijan (1 Bcm in total) in the first quarter of 2022, with the remainder of the associated gas produced reinjected for reservoir pressure maintenance.

At the end of the quarter, 137 oil wells were producing, with 37 used for water and eight for gas injection.