The operator of the giant Karachaganak gas and condensate field in Kazakhstan, Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, has completed the initial project aimed at maintaining the production capacity of this key mature hydrocarbon asset in the country.

Karachaganak is one of the three major developments — also including Kashagan and Tengiz — in producer stalwart Kazakhstan, a country that is party to the Opec+ alliance agreement on output curbs.

According to the operator, the Karachaganak Gas Debottlenecking (KGDBN) project will increase the ability of the operator to process sour gas — which includes highly corrosive and poisonous hydrogen sulphide — by 4 billion cubic metres per annum.

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That in turn will help to maintain the production of condensate that flows to the surface together with the sour gas, the content of which is increasing each year as the field’s reservoirs are depleted.

Separated sour gas will be re-injected into the reservoir to maximise the liquid hydrocarbons production, an additional increase of which is expected to amount annually to approximately 75 million barrels.

According to the operator, KGDBN will provide capacity to enable the delivery of the remaining expansion projects at the field, which includes the so-called Fourth Injection Compressor (4IC) project, currently in the execution phase, and the approved Fifth Injection Compressor project.

The goal of these two projects is to extend the duration of plateau production at the field at an annual level of between 94 million and 98 million barrels of condensate and between 17.5 billion and 18.5 billion cubic metres of gas.

The Karachaganak operator said that it had been able to complete KGDBN almost six months ahead of the original schedule despite restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The company is to take up even bigger challenges”, the operator said.

“For one, Karachaganak Future Growth Project ... attracts additional investment and new technology”.

Since the start of construction activities on the field in 1999 under a production sharing agreement, Karachaganak partners have invested more than $27 billion into the development of the asset, including $8.2 billion that spent for local content and services.

According to the operator, the share of local content in KGDBN has reached 57% as Karachaganak Petroleum Operating.

Despite a reduction in orders from three largest foreign-operated developments in Kazakhstan last year, Tengiz, Kashagan and Karachaganak still accounted to about 80% of total local contracts for goods and services for the total amount of about 4.3 trillion tenge ($10.2 billion), according to an association of Kazakh contractors, KazService.

Karachaganak shareholders are Italy’s Eni, Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell, US supermajor Chevron, Russia’s Lukoil and Kazakh state oil and gas holding KazMunaigaz.