According to Rosneft, this is the northernmost well drilled to date offshore northernRussia. The partners hope to prove a new oil province.
The Universitetskaya structure, which covers an area of 1,200 km (745 mi) within the East Prinovozemelskiy-1 license, has a potential 550-m (1,804-ft) tall hydrocarbon trap, the company says, and possible resources of more than 1.3 billion tons of oil equivalent. Rosneft adds that around 30 structures have been identified in three East Prinovozemelskiy areas of the Kara Sea, with a collective resource base of 87 Bbbl or 13 billion tons of oil equivalent.
Water depth at the drilling site is 81 m (266 ft), and the designed depth of the vertical well is 2,350 m (7,710 ft) from the rotary table.
North Atlantic Drilling, which owns the West Alpha, transported the rig via the Barents and Pechora seas, a journey of more than 1,900 nautical miles. In preparation for this program the rig was upgraded to improve reliability of its main and supplementary equipment and to safeguard all systems against the effects of low temperatures.
The rig is equipped with a system for monitoring ice conditions, iceberg detection, and tracking of sea ice. It uses infrared cameras, onboard radars, and can analyze satellite and air intelligence data.
To ensureWest Alpha operates safely in severe ice conditions, Rosneft/ExxonMobil developed an iceberg collision prevention strategy that includes applying physical action to the ice. If there is a risk that a hummock or floe may damage the rig, support vessels will tow it away to a safe distance.
If, however, physical action proves impossible, the well will be isolated to ensure no impact on the environment, Rosneft says, and the rig transferred to a safer location. It is equipped with two groups of BOPs and an enhanced subsea shut-in device.