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Saad Al-Mohannadi speaks exclusively to Oil & Gas Middle East

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Saad Al-Mohannadi surveys a scale model of the 2005 FDP expansion project.
Saad Al-Mohannadi surveys a scale model of the 2005 FDP expansion project.
Saad Al-Mohannadi is deputy managing director at Maersk Oil Qatar.
Saad Al-Mohannadi is deputy managing director at Maersk Oil Qatar.

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 Saad Al-Mohannadi, deputy managing director of Maersk Oil Qatar speaks exclusively to Oil & Gas Middle East as completion moves into sight for the giant Al Shaheen expansion project

The Al Shaheen Block 5 field, which sits just shy of 80 kilometres off the Qatar coast has seen oil production grow to over 300 000 barrels per day, and for a time was generating Qatar’s largest hydrocarbon revenue stream.

The Field Development Plan (FDP) signed in 2005, has positioned Maersk Oil Qatar at the heart of QP’s oil producing future. The extension project, (2005 FDP), aims to increase production beyond the 330 000 bpd recorded in 2008, and includes an investment package estimated at US$6 billion, which covers EOR expenditure as well as infrastructure investment.

The 2005 FDP is a huge undertaking. The project encompasses the drilling of more than 160 production and water injection wells over a six year period. Fifteen new platforms were required, (several currently on barges inching their way towards Qatar’s waters from overseas international contractors). These platforms are to be twinned with accommodation and production facilities and the whole project interconnected by subsea pipelines.

Saad Al-Mohannadi, deputy managing director of Maersk Oil Qatar reveals where the landmark project is at today.

How is the expansion plan progressing?

SAM: We are currently on schedule with the FDP which is a real achievement considering the size and complexity of the FDP, with significant installations and hook-ups taking place, whilst maintaining high levels of production uptime. We’re understandably pleased by the progress being made which is currently about 90% complete and of the cooperation with Qatar Petroleum, which has enabled such progress. 126 out of 169 planned long horizontal wells have been drilled within the FDP 2005; the drilling campaign is 75% complete. This includes the world’s longest well at a depth of 40,320 feet drilled in May. Also, Seven of fifteen platforms (weighing 140,000 tonnes in total) have been installed, with the remaining eight either in the process of being installed offshore or to be loaded in Asia and the Middle East for offshore installation later this year. Jackets have been installed for seven of the eight outstanding platforms.

Final hook-up and commissioning will take place in early 2010. On top of this, the laying of 300km of inter-field pipelines and 50km of subsea cables has been finalised and these are currently being tied-in to the completed platforms, and a major 3D seismic survey, including interpretation of the data has been finished.

What are your goals this year?

SAM: Our goal is to continue with the progress we’ve been making, without accidents and without any significant delays. We’re currently in the last phase of work and I would say our main goal is to simply focus on the successful completion of the project - around the end of Q1 next year. Our major milestones from 2009 include the installation of four major decks including the largest (13,500 tonnes) in the Middle East later this year. The commissioning of a central utilities platform including the power generation plant supplying 32 MW of power to the satellite platforms is significant, and commencing oil production and gas compression through new central processing platforms is a big step forward.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

SAM: In the beginning of this project we set out to do something that had never been done before, that clearly brings challenges on a scale that you wouldn’t normally experience. I would say the biggest challenge is to adapt to the daily, evolving challenges to remain on time and on budget whilst maintaining significant up-time in our production operations.

Seeing the progression of the Al Shaheen field development from start to finish is hugely rewarding though. I’ve been involved from the very beginning when there was nothing. I’ve since watched the company and this project grow steadily with no breaks in development, which is a real achievement.

If you had to pick one moment as an absolute highlight of your time with MOQ, what would it be?

SAM: There’s so many to choose from! One that stands out is being in charge of the first shipment of crude oil from the Al Shaheen field in 1994, to see and realise we’d been successful. Also the drilling of the world’s longest horizontal well in 2008 at 40,230 feet (12.3km) marked a real milestone in our capabilities as a company.

But the real highlight has been my involvement with the first Field Development Plan (FDP). It was an exciting and challenging time, we had really good support from HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Deputy Prime Minister and Ministry of Energy and Industry HE Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah. We were embarking on a project that if successful, would give and enormous boost to the country’s economy.

What was your background prior to joining MOQ?

SAM: I joined Maersk Oil Qatar in 1993 from Qatar Petroleum, becoming the Deputy Managing Director in 1996.

I have a background in operations with QP with a BSc in Petroleum Engineering.

I was given the opportunity to join Maersk as a position for a Senior Qatari was available. At the time, Maersk Oil was virtually unknown in Qatar; a small company which few had heard of. At that time it was a risk to join such a company and many didn’t believe that Maersk would succeed in developing the Al Shaheen field. However, I believed in their potential as the geological conditions of the North Sea, which Maersk Oil had been developing over the previous decades, were similar to the Al Shaheen Field to some extent.

They also had an experienced team involved with the development of the field and who would share their knowledge on cutting-edge technologies new to Qatar at the time, such as long horizontal wells. This made me ready to take on the challenge.

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