This follows ratification of an agreement to extend the concession by a further 10 years until Dec. 31, 2051.
Upper Zakum, discovered in 1963, is the world’s second largest offshore oil field. Abu Dhabi’s state oil company ADNOC initiated development in 1977, with INPEX subsidiary JODCO joining as a partner in 1978, followed by Exxon in 2006.
At that point the joint venture partners began studying options to lift production capacity from 500,000 b/d to 750,000 b/d, eventually settling on an artificial island-based development combined with extended-reach drilling technology to increase recovery and minimize infrastructure needs.
They went on to construct four artificial islands in shallow water to create what INPEX describes as effectively an onshore environment in the offshore field.
Unlike the initial Upper Zakum development, which comprises around 450 wells and more than 90 platforms, the islands provide a sufficiently large footprint to accommodate drilling rigs and to station drilling and production equipment and personnel centrally in offices and living quarters.
This removes costs associated with platform jacket maintenance and satellites.
Future development of Upper Zakum will continue to employ extended-reach drilling and completion technologies to increase offshore production.
Drilling wells from the man-made islands at Upper Zakum is said to be cheaper than installing additional offshore platforms, subsea equipment and pipelines. In recent years, theUpper Zakum development has set several drilling records in the UAE, including the longest well at 35,800 ft (10,912 m) measured depth.
Future phases will make use of advanced reservoir characterization and modeling techniques, as well as modularly expanding existing infrastructure and facilities to maximize efficiency and lower costs.