Arctic LNG 1 has launched new exploration drilling tenders for deep wells at the high-pressure Achimov formations at the Gydan block on West Siberia's Gydan Peninsula.

The subsidiary of Russia's largest independent gas producer Novatek is intending to use wells to maximise the output of condensate together with natural gas.

Arctic LNG 1 expects the wells 143R, 147R and 151R to be completed at a depth of about 3600 metres during next year, according to its tender disclosure notices.

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Earlier in July, the operator said that it was seeking a drilling contractor to spud a similar exploration well, #134, to test the productivity of Achimov formations at the Gydan block.

Speaking at a webinar on Wednesday, Novatek deputy executive chairman Mark Gyetvay said that while drilling into and producing from the Achimov formations is more challenging and expensive than developing shallow reservoirs, the company sees more value in tapping hydrocarbons from these deeper zones.

Condensate lure

According to Gyetvay, this incremental value is generated by a higher volume of condensate that comes to the surface together with the gas.

While gas is set to flow for liquefaction at the planned three-train plant that Arctic LNG 1 expects to bring into operation by 2030, condensate can be exported directly to international markets where it is sold at a premium to traditional oil because of its higher quality, Gyetvay said.

He added that Novatek expects to produce up to 800 grams of condensate per cubic metre of gas from the Achimov formations at the Gydan block and other assets of Arctic LNG 1, against an average of between 100 and 250 grams of condensate per cubic metre from shallow formations at fields in West Siberia.

According to a recent Novatek statement, its condensate production grew by almost 5% to more than 300,000 barrels per day between January and June this year compared with the same period of 2020.

Overcoming challenges

The gas producer in recent years has developed expertise in drilling and managing flows from deep Jurassic, Valanzhin and Achimov formations, together with its long-time drilling contractor Eriell, Gyetvay said at the webinar.

Eriell currently has five heavy winterised rigs that are drilling development wells at the Utrenneye field on the Gydan Peninsula. This reservoir will deliver gas to Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 project, which is due online between 2023 and 2025.

Eriell is due to mobilise a sixth rig to the Gydan Peninsula later this year for exploration drilling for Arctic LNG 1, its executive chairman Vitaly Dokunikhin said.

Despite low permeability of these formations, Novatek has been achieving good flow rates from them by conducting eight to 10-stage fracking of holes, Gyetvay said.

“We are not ignoring shallow hydrocarbon formations at the Gydan block. If we discover them during exploration drilling, we will just plan to produce gas from them at a later phase of development," he said.