Maersk Oil Qatar: Al Shaheen can go even further

Exclusive: Lewis Affleck says oilfield has plenty of life left in it

Lewis Affleck, managing director of Maersk Oil Qatar.
Lewis Affleck, managing director of Maersk Oil Qatar.

In Partnership with Qatar Petroleum, Maersk Oil Qatar has successfully developed the Al Shaheen field in Qatar, beating the incredibly complex geology to extract some 300,000bpd from wafer-thin formations deep below the Arabian gulf. We quizzed Lewis Affleck on how an ultra-marginal field has become Qatar’s most important offshore oil resource.

What’s been special about Maersk Oil’s involvement in Qatar?
The Al-Shaheen field is very complex and the reserves are very difficult to extract (tight and located in very thin reservoir structures). In fact, when Maersk Oil and the State of Qatar signed an Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) for Al Shaheen in 1992, it was considered a marginal and unattractive field by many energy companies.

Despite these challenges, in partnership with Qatar Petroleum (QP), and by applying innovative solutions, development strategies and technologies – many of which came from Maersk Oil’s experience of developing tight chalk reservoirs in the North Sea – we’ve now extracted more than one billion barrels of oil from the Al Shaheen field (mid 2010), which is currently producing around 300,000 barrels of oil per day. That’s around one-third of Qatar’s daily oil production.

Since 1994, Maersk Oil has set new world records for drilling the longest horizontal wells in the world. The last record, recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records, was set in 2008 with a 12.3 kilometre (40,320 feet) well.

What’s coming up on the technical side which excites you?
We inaugurated the Maersk Oil Research and Technology Centre (MO-RTC) at Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) in 2011. We anticipate that it will be a $100 million 10-year investment into cutting edge applied research and technology – much of which is specifically focused on activities that will help to further unlock the huge potential of the Al-Shaheen field.

The MO-RTC will focus primarily on conducting applied Research and Development, aimed at Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) technologies from long horizontal wells and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) for carbonate fields. We’re also conducting research that will help us to better understand – and therefore protect – the offshore environment here in Qatar.

What does the future hold?
We believe there is significant potential to further develop Al Shaheen, and we are currently evaluating this potential together with QP. Our focus is on maximizing recovery and creating a stable production plateau for a long time.

What’s really exciting right now is how relationships between international oil companies and the State of Qatar are developing. We’re actively pursuing opportunities to work with Qatar Petroleum both inside of Qatar – but also outside of Qatar. So the relationship between IOCs and the state is definitely deepening.


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Oil & Gas Middle East - October 2020

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