The Al Shaheen oil and gas field off Qatar’s northeast coast represents one of the world’s greatest lessons in perseverance. Initially explored and deemed economically unviable due to the challenging environment, the Al Shaheen field was left untouched by major international oil companies until Maersk Oil decided to grab this particular bull by the horns.
In cooperation with Qatar Petroleum (QP), in 1992 Maersk began developing the field, which proved to be Qatar’s largest oil field. Just 18 years later, in July 2010, the two companies celebrated the production of their billionth barrel of oil – a truly impressive landmark considering the field was virtually ignored for many years.
Now in 2011, Maersk is planning to devise a scheme to extend the life of the Al Shaheen field, after completing a $6.2 billion project to raise its production above the 330,000 bpd recorded in 2008. Indeed, Maersk aims to raise Al Shaheen’s capacity to well over 500,000 bpd, despite QP’s currently limit on output to 300,000 bpd.
In order to recover oil from this tricky field some 50 miles offshore, the Danish company employs the world’s longest horizontal well. Last month, Maersk established a long-term collaboration agreement with Dutch independent research company TNO to jointly develop new technologies for increased oil recovery (IOR), focusing mainly on this type of long horizontal well.
Maersk and TNO are conducting the project at Doha’s Qatar Science and Technology Park, where both companies already have research centers. Maersk is investing an additional $100 million in its facility.