Bazhenov-Abalak Oil Targeted! Shell Joins Gazprom Neft to Extract Unconventional Oil in Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug

By Elena Zhuk, August 16, 2013

Deposits of the Bazhenov-Abalak group, which until recently were considered a dead weight on company balance sheets and of interest only to Russian eggheads, are today are the darlings of the oil and gas industry. OGE journalist Elena Zhuk joined Gazprom Neft experts visiting the Palyanovskaya block of Krasnoleninskoye field to find out whether the production companies based in Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Region are up to matching the success of U.S. upstream industry’s “shale rock” revolution.
In early April, Gazprom Neft announced successful drilling of the first prospecting and appraisal vertical well in the Bazhenov-Abalak horizon at Palyanovskaya block of Krasnoleninskoye field, developed by its subsidiary Gazpromneft-Khantos. Today, the 2,750-meter deep well No. 153 is running in blow-out mode, producing about 80 tons of oil per day.
High Production Rate Is Achieved
Undoubtedly, this is a success – wildcats drilled earlier on Krasnoleninskoye field showed rather modest yields. “Two years ago we started testing the previously drilled exploration wells. After the well intervention operations (well acidification and hydrofracturing), on one of the wells we got a daily production rate of 25 tons. Yet the logging showed no oil reservoir there,” says Sergei Doktor, General Director of Gazpromneft-Khantos. The company blitzed some exploration wells on Priobskoye field, the largest asset of Gazpromneft-Khantos, but the success of Krasnoleninskoye wells remained unmatched. That’s why now it plans to pinpoint the deposit by drilling three more experimental holes – this time, deviated wells – to Bazhenov-Abalak horizon by the end of the year.
“Palyanovskaya block of the Krasnoleninskoye field is an asset that is currently ineffective,” explains Rustem Nazmetdinov, specialist for hard-to-recover reserves of the Gazpromneft engineering office, adding, “It is being developed for about 20 years, but the flow rate is quite low, water content is high. It was the geologists’ idea to drill the well No. 153, they are, so to say, the pioneers here.”
Other Russian producers, mainly Lukoil, Rosneft and Surgutneftegaz subsidiaries, are looking at the Bazhenov-Abalak complex, too. In 2012 Khanty-Mansiysk, the capital of the autonomous region of the same name, hosted a discussion of the representatives of the companies, which included various aspects of developing difficult reserves, among other things. The peer exchange helped Gazpromneft-Khantos experts to adjust the design of the well No. 153 at the design stage. Yet domestic experience is insufficient for the further development of such projects. “All of us are on the same stage of the path, and I cannot say that any of Russian oil companies understand how to move on. That’s why we want to use the experience of Shell in the joint venture,” notes Doktor.
Gazprom Neft CEO Alexander Dyukov told at the beginning of June that “taxation component is still of most importance for oilmen” in shale oil development projects. “Moreover, there’s no clear understanding in Russia what shale oil is and which production technologies will be used to extract it. This problem should be solved”, Dyukov said.
Gazprom Neft Teams up with Shell
Resources of the Bazhenov-Abalak suite located in Khanty-Mansy Autonomy will