Oil Economy – The SARB Offshore Oilfield

February 12, 2018 in Energy, Mining

The Satah-al-Razboot (SARB) is an offshore oilfield that will provide 100,000 barrels of crude oil for Abu Dhabi per day. Oil is a significant player in the economy of the Emirate, so the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) took the opportunity to develop the field for energy and profit. It will be the first ADMA-OPCO field to be developed without assistance from foreign shareholders.

The SARB site has some impressive dimensions. It is comprised of two artificial islands, 7km apart from each other and 120 km away from the UAE capital Abu Dhabi. Oil will be extracted from 86 wells before being transferred to processing, storage and export facilities on the island of Zirku.

The offshore development is going through seven project stages. The main focus has been the construction of the islands (SARB- 1 and SARB- 2), which measure 500m each and have been shaped to look like falcons.

Initial excavations processed about 13 million cubic metres of rock and saw the placement of 4.5 million cubic metres of ‘fill’. The fill has provided level platforms for further development. Also, there is vibro compaction of about two million cubic metres of material at a depth of 21.5m. This has been achieved with two tandems.

Total dredging volume has now reached 9.6 million m³ by trailing suction hopper dredgers (TSHD) and 2.5 million m³ by cutter suction dredgers (CSD). This has created a net surface above water of 230,000 m² per island. Due to the stringent liquefaction criteria in case of earthquakes, the reclaimed land is being built to withstand pressures from the very heavy drilling installations. As such, a density on the working area and on the slopes of 90 percent ‘maximum dry density’ (MDD) has been achieved.

The construction requires sophisticated equipment and technology, such as trailing suction hopper dredgers, offloading and positioning pontoons, crane pontoons, transport barges, and heavy earth moving vehicles. For this, excellent training facilities have been created to equip the workforce with the right skills to implement the initiatives. As part of the SARB development, the company duplicated the main process facilities using synthetic oil and nitrogen. This is only the second occasion in the world that such a training facility has been created. It was given as a gift to the ADNOC Technical Institute.

Up to 500 people are expected to be involved in the dredging works for the islands.  For precasting, temporary storing, and transportation of quay wall construction blocks, Accropodes, and stones and rock from the Stevin Rock quarries, an onshore base was built in Ras-al-Khaimah where over 350 workers were employed. A fully independent 4 ha base camp was installed on Zirku island, providing accomodation, site offices and supplies of basic necessities. In the height of the project, 1,200 personnel from 32 nationalities were employed at the construction sites (the onshore base workshops and the Zirku ‘village’.) The project has been executed in compliance with the highest standards of quality and offshore safety. The team achieved a remarkable safety performance of more than 11 million man hours with only 5 minor LTI’s.

So far, the island work has been sophisticated and well planned. Strategically, each island hosts an operations port, with a 450-m quay wall and 400 m long breakwaters of 400 m. The quay walls have been constructed by means of 2,342 prefabricated concrete blocks per island, weighing each between 50 and 70 tonnes. The bank edge protection, circumfering 1,500 m per island, has been made of 38,486 Accropodes II® blocks and no less than 4.5 million tonnes of rock materials of various sizes (quarry run, underlayer and armour rock up  to 8 tonnes). This will provide protection to the island’s boundaries from the shore.

The majority of the infrastructure work has now been completed, and it should start to turn in to a viable, profitable business. CEO of Adma-Opco, Yaser Al Mazrouei, has a sound overview of the oil business. He understands how the SARB project, amongst others, fits to Abu Dhabi’s needs. In an interview with Oil and Gas Year, he said:

“ADNOC has adopted a new operating model that can more quickly execute on our strategic imperatives. For upstream, this means a more profitable business.”

“Different projects have different time frames. For example, the SARB field should start the commissioning process by the end of December. It will build up after that in 2018.”

The CEO added:

“We are very proud that we sustainably and safely delivered against our targets and plans and operate with zero fatalities and zero oil spills. We are progressing on schedule with all projects and contracts and addressed the challenges the current market environment poses without delaying our project progress. Nor did we stop our drilling activities or the progress of our facilities.”

The project has engaged with various contractors, who have been key players in the dredging, reclamation, compaction, shore protection and harbour construction works for the construction of the islands. Works were awarded under a single package to the joint venture of Middle East Dredging Company (Medco) and Dredging International, under ‘Design and Build’ terms.

The EPC contract for the islands was awarded to Petrofac at $500m and Hyundai E&C (HDEC) at $1.89bn. The processing and export facilities will be constructed by Hyundai, while the subsea connections and drilling works will be carried out by Petrofac.

MEDCO and Dredging International subcontracted Byrne Looby Partners (BLP) are supporting the design phase, project management, and supervision of excavation and filling works for the process and tank platform areas. BLP is also providing coastal engineering services for the design and construction of the jetty and seawater intake.

The early site preparation works for the Zirku Island is being carried out by Archiredon.

The sub-contractor to carry out the ground improvement works on the islands is NSCC Ground Improvement, which is working in collaboration with BetterGround.

Concrete Layer Innvoations (CLI) provided the armoured land revetments for the artificial islands.

The front-end engineering and design (FEED) of the project was carried out by Flour from 2009 to 2011. Up to 180 people were involved in the FEED phase of the project.

The contracts for the construction of the accommodation buildings, administration buildings and associated facilities on the two artificial islands are yet to be announced.

Mr Mazrouei is positive about the possibilities of offshore oil performance. He said:

“Instead of having two different entities operating in the same environment, we will simplify our set up, facilitate enhanced operational performance and deliver strategic benefits by establishing a scalable operating model that could be used for any future offshore concession agreements.”

“The consolidation is expected to be completed around year end. Abu Dhabi’s current offshore concessions in Adma-Opco and Zadco will then be operated by one company. It will be easier and more focused for all parties involved and dealing with the offshore sites. Even from a processing point of view, it is going to be more efficient, both internally and externally.”

“I look at our people and the operations associated, and everybody is very committed. We have an excellent operational philosophy, standards and safety. With the consolidation we will improve further.”

The first installation phase is due to start this month with commissioning on Dual Fuel Operation completed by 2018, and completion of plant commissioning on gas by 2019. Production from the field, which is expected to reach 100,000 bpd with a 12-18-year plateau, is due to commence in October 2017.