Logistics Problems in Developing Remote Oil Fields - A Case History From Prudhoe Bay
- J.A. Heimer (Exxon Co., U.S.A.) | L.A. Bryan (Exxon Co., U.S.A.) | J.D. Weeks (Atlantic Richfield Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- June 1978
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 851 - 859
- 1978. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.1.6 Compressors, Engines and Turbines, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment
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This paper describes how the environment and selection of facilities posed difficult and unique logistics challenges during the development posed difficult and unique logistics challenges during the development of the Prudhoe Bayfield. These challenges required the formation of a management group specifically for logistics planning, a detailed analysis of logistics activities, and imaginative engineering solutions to identified logistics problems.
The logistics problems of supporting exploration and exploratory drilling in remote locations of the world have been well publicized recently. A problem being recognized more frequently and requiring particular attention during development of the Prudhoe Bay field since 1975 is that remote-location logistics do not end with exploration and drilling. Installation of production facilities poses problems that are just as production facilities poses problems that are just as intricate, potentially expensive, and difficult to solve. This has occurred offshore as discoveries are made in deeper and rougher water; the frontier arctic areas also are prime examples of where logistics problems are being encountered onshore.
With unitization of the Prudhoe Bay field on April 1, 1977, all field facilities are owned jointly in varying percentages by 13 separate companies. As a field percentages by 13 separate companies. As a field operator, Atlantic Richfield Co. constructs, ships, erects, and operates those facilities located on the eastern side of the field. This includes facilities such as the central compressor plant and field fuel gas unit that serve the entire field. Similarly, BP Alaska performs those functions for the western side of the field, which includes the central power station. Close coordination between the two operators power station. Close coordination between the two operators is as essential in the construction and installation of facilities as it is in the production of oil.
Description of Facilities
The Prudhoe Bay field will be developed on an initial 320-acre spacing with ultimate expansion to 160 acres or less in some locations. The 550 or more wells will be drilled directionally from a series of 31 drillsites or pads situated throughout the field, thus minimizing the pads situated throughout the field, thus minimizing the number of drilling locations. Flowlines from the drillsites carry the produced crude oil to one of three flow stations on the east side of the field or to one of three gathering centers on the west. Each similar, large facility separates and treats 300,000 to 360,000 BOPD and about 500 MMcf/D of gas. A smaller volume of produced water also is separated and reinjected. The processed oil then is pumped to the first Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) pump station. The gas is transported to the 300,000-hp central compressor plant for reinjection in the reservoir until gas-sales plant for reinjection in the reservoir until gas-sales treating and transportation facilities are available. A 100-MMcf/D fuel gas unit, several construction camps for more than 3,000 workers, two operations centers, a 152-MW central power station, an airfield, and three docks also are part of the installation. The total investment in these basic facilities to handle a field production rate of 1.2 million BOPD exceeds $3.5 billion.
Challenge of the Environment
The geographic location of Prudhoe Bay and the arctic ice pack on the north Alaskan coast impose severe isolation pack on the north Alaskan coast impose severe isolation conditions on the oil field.
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