Interview: Hosnia Hashim, Kuwait Oil Company

Hosnia Hashim discusses North Kuwait's $14b E&P projects

Hosnia Hashim, deputy managing director for Kuwait Oil Company's North Kuwait
Hosnia Hashim, deputy managing director for Kuwait Oil Company's North Kuwait

North Kuwait’s $14 billion E&P development projects are well underway, as Hosnia Hashim, deputy managing director for Kuwait Oil Company’s North Kuwait assets exclusively reveals to Oil & Gas Middle East

Hosnia Hashim has a packed schedule, overseeing a giant E&P capacity push as Deputy Managing Director for Kuwait Oil Company’s North Kuwait operations, and as a passionate and engaged chairperson of the board for the Society of Petroleum Engineers for the Middle East and North Africa.

Speaking exclusively with Oil & Gas Middle East, Hashim outlines her excitement at the big capacity push and how she is motivated by the task at hand preparing a new generation to run the country, and the region’s next generation of energy workers.

North Kuwait is currently responsible for 24% of the production of Kuwait Oil Company. However, as Hashim reveals, the NK assets are undergoing a prodigious upgrade which will see production increase by more than 40%.

This will be achieved by a series of activities that encompass a drilling campaign of horizontal wells for conventional resources, and vertical wells, which will tap into Kuwait’s huge resources of heavy oil.

“For North Kuwait, we are now at a production level of 700 thousand barrels per day, and we are planning to reach 1 million by 2017,” explains Hashim.

This target is part of a medium term plan to deliver 1 million barrels of oil per day by 2017/18, and maintain plateau for a minimum of fifteen years.

“North Kuwait’s long term plan is to supplement production offtake with contributions from heavy oil development, implementation of EOR and extensive water injection programs to maintain the reservoir pressure,” she adds.

These goals will be achieved through a multi-year aggressive infill drilling and well maintenance programs aimed at lifting current well capacity by 43%.

A large scale expansion of surface facilities including three gathering centers and associated headers, transit lines and power projects are planned to be completed in time to permit the efficient handling and processing of produced fluids, including the associated water and gas.

In addition to increased oil production, the capacity push will ramp up associated gas production. Today North Kuwait’s gas production is around 450 Million standard cubic feet of gas per day, all of which is sent directly to a refinery where it is commercialized.

“To accommodate the extra gas production we are also currently building a new gas booster station to accommodate the associated gas production, all of which falls under a large upgrade of facilities we are currently executing in North Kuwait.”

Many of the Middle East’s most prolific production zones have begun to enter a period of terminal decline, with sophisticated and expensive enhanced oil recovery pushing itself increasingly to the top of the agenda on many assets.

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Hashim says the impact of field decline is not yet an issue the NK assets are faced with, but an advanced and ambitious development plan is being carried out with future field health firmly in mind.

“We have not experienced decline yet, and are, in fact, still experiencing growth for North Kuwait asset production. We need to take into consideration that North Kuwait oil fields are just at their early stages of development, so our current activities are in fact aimed to expand and increment our production.”

As an example of this, Hashim cites the In 2013/14 programme, already well underway. “We have an approved action plan to drill 66 horizontal wells for our medium and light oil fields, to maximize the value these kinds of wells bring to our asset.

Besides this, for our Heavy Oil fields, we will drill an additional 160 wells. This level of drilling activity evidences the importance that North Kuwait Asset has for KOC, as our incremental oil production is a key component of our corporate strategy to meet the production goals in the years to come.”

The activity for the development of Heavy Oil in North Kuwait is particularly intense. These resources are effectively being developed as greenfield sites.

“I would like to highlight we have already drilled 700 wells for heavy oil, and that the budget for the heavy oil development amounts US$5.3 billion over a five year term. These are impressive numbers by all standards.”

Hashim says several secondary and tertiary methods are being deployed to prolong productive field life.

“In our asset we are in the process of implementing waterflood and other EOR techniques. The results so far are the product of the initial phases, but I am glad to share with you that we have achieved success in the piloting phase, so we are positively confident the water injection and EOR programs will provide the necessary support to sustain North Kuwait production growth, to match KOC’s and KPC’s strategic targets,” she beams.

That $5 billion-plus figure, is, she stresses, purely to cover the facilities expansion, specifically related the installation for the largest Waterflood program encompassed up to date by Kuwait Oil Company.

“This budget also extends to building the necessary facilities for the handling and production of the heavy oil crude that will be an important component of our volumetrics very soon,” she adds.

The full field investment plans are much larger, and in fact represent a record for the NK area.

“The investment amounts utilized and approved for this expansion in North Kuwait asset for are the biggest ever approved in Kuwait Oil Compamy for field development purposes, and amount nearly $14 billion, distributed across a 5-year period,” reveals Hashim.

In addition to the heavy oil project work, the infrastructure expansion plan encompasses three gas booster stations, water injection facilities, a new water treatment center, power generation, new wells equipped with ESPs, flow lines, and manifolds, among others.

“This package of upgrades and works underway will deliver an unprecedented optimisation and expansion of our facilities,” says Hashim”

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Road Ahead
With such a considerable flow of work going on today it is easy to dodge the difficult questions which will dominate the business in the years ahead. However, Hashim has always placed the long-term needs of the company front and centre of her own priority list.

The single largest challenge she is tackling, she says, relates to the next generation of Kuwaiti workers who must cme hrough the ranks to manage KOC and its activities in the future.

“KOC has many challenges but also many strengths. I’ll start with the strengths first, as those are related to our people. Our leaders and professionals from Kuwait are a committed force towards improvement, and I thrive in witnessing the improvements that their preparation and professionalisms bring to our national main industry,” she says.

“As for the challenges, I consider the main one KOC is facing today is the accelerated intake and training of its workforce to be able to cope with the many and complex characteristics of the modern oil industry to produce oil fields with EOR, with water injection, with complex facilities in a constrained skilled workforce environment.”

She adds that it is her most cherished goal to ensure a new generation of Kuwaiti technicians and professionals will have the skills and knowledge needed to meet and match the technical and operational challenges of the industry.

Of what motivates her throughout her career, and especially today, she is clear: “I enjoy my work every day, and the most exciting element for me at work is my connection with the people. I thrive to liaise with my teams’ members, and in particular, am very fond of the new generations of Kuwaiti operators, the engineers, the geologists, technicians of every branch of knowledge.”

“In North Kuwait, we are all immersed in a spirit of collaboration towards success, in these growth times, facing many challenges, and this is the most exciting element of my work! I do thrive when we all work with a high spirit of teamwork, and when I am able to touch people’s hearts,” she concludes.

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