Visiting Suez Oil Company

Zeit Bay and Ras Budran Concessions

Zeit Bay Crude Storage TanksIn keeping with our policy of always aspiring to bring the sector’s most pressing issues to the surface and report the news from the ground, Egypt Oil & Gas was invited by Eng. Nabil Ali Zaki, Chairman of Suez Oil Company’s (SUCO,) to visit two of the company’s development concessions, namely Zeit Bay and Ras Budran, which are located in the Eastern Desert and the Sinai Peninsula respectively.

Founded in 1979, SUCO is a joint-venture company between the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and the German RWE DEA. The company owns three major development leases (Ras Fanar , Zeit  Bay and Ras Budran.) In addition to its main development fields, SUCO has also been developing the North Idco field in the Mediterranean.

SUCO is currently expanding its 2011-2012 drilling operations as well as intensifying the development of its preexisting fields. During the previous fiscal year 2011-2012, the company successfully drilled 16 wells.

Last March, the company’s production numbers of stood at 537,119 barrels of crude oil and 50,383 cubic feet of natural gas.

Gas Plant Control RoomIn Ras Fanar field, SUCO drilled 14 wells, most of which are situated west of Ras El-Fanar, contributing 50% of the field’s crude production. The company also completed two new wells in Ras Budran.

According to Eng. Talaat Mahmoud, production manager of SUCO’s Zeit Bay development lease, which is located 80 kilometers north of Hurgada, the company owns 19 developmental wells, 10 of which are offshore, with an aggregate production rate of 4850 barrels per day. In addition, 4 onshore wells are currently being maintained in preparation for secondary recovery using the Weatherford 104 rig, with the target of raising their output by 500 barrels per day.

Out of the 19 wells, 11 produce using the method of gas-lifting, while the remaining 8 naturally flow with no need for artificial lifting. The company also owns 5 wells that contain high levels of associated gas, which is used in in the artificial lifting of the aforementioned 11 wells.

Once production starts from the 4 wells being maintained, production is estimated to reach 5500 barrels per day. Two of those wells are being sidetracked, being drilled diagonally targeting a deeper formation.

When asked about the average cost of producing a barrel, taking in consideration overhead cost, Eng. Talaat Mahmoud, gave an estimate of $9.60.
SUCO’s Zeit Bay neighboring concessions, such as that of PetroAmir’s, uses SUCO’s facilities for treatment and shipping of its production. The cost of these operations is determined by the EGPC. The use of SUCO’s facilities by neighboring, relatively new, companies is regulated by both SUCO and the EGPC, as a way to cut on cost.

Eng, Mahmoud explains, “ Its very costly and almost pointless for the neighboring companies to build their own treatment facilities, and it is in the interest of every party involved to use the existing facilities since it optimizes two  of the most significant elements in the any production operation; time and cost.

The company’s current wells are quite mature; approximately 80% of the wells’ resources have been extracted. However, the company relies heavily on artificial lifting in order to maximize the output of those nearly-depleted fields.

SUCO is preparing to offer a tender for an offshore rig starting the next fiscal year (2012-2013.)

SUCO’s Gas Plant at Zeit Bay Development Lease

Zeit Bay Gas PlantSUCO’s Gas plant at Zeit Bay was established in 1987, with the objective of boosting the output of the company’s oil wells through Gas injection. Eng. Adel Mohamed Abdel Rahman, Manager of the Gas plant, explained that in order to maintain pressure and thus productivity in wells, Gas is injected at high pressure into the well for improved oil recovery. Some of the components removed from the gas prior to its use in secondary oil recovery are useful, and so are isolated in the plant.

In order for this to be achieved, associated gas is acquired from the concession’s crude production, pressure is lifted from the gas and impurities such as water are removed from the gas utilizing Glycol, after which it is cooled via Propane. Gas is cooled to -25 degrees Celsius, resulting in certain condensates such as Ethane and Propane and Butane which go through fractionation towers.

This produces Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) through the condensation of C3 and C4 gases, which is stored in tanks with a 1,650-ton capacity. 130 tons of natural gas per day are pumped to GUPCO’s 104 station 38 km away, through which they go to either Cairo’s Qatameya LPG plant or to Assiut, to be distributed across the country.

Following the isolation of condensates, a portion of the remaining gas is used as fuel gas to power machinery in the plant such as turbines as well as in the oil and gas heating process. Another portion of the gas is re-injected into the oil wells. 15 million cubic feet of natural gas are also introduced daily by the plant into the national gas grid via GUPCO.
Gases that are heavier than LPG are provided to Petrogulf Egypt to inject into crude oil in order to enhance the quality of the oil. This rise in quality raises the general price of crude oil.

Zeit Bay Gas PlantEng. Abdel Rahman was keen to assure that excess gasses are not burned by the company, as this is forbidden by law for environmental reasons. This is also the motivation behind using gas as fuel in the company’s operations, as it produces fewer emissions. Gas is also used in flares as an emergency mechanism, in order to burn leaked gases.

In addition to using associated gas from SUCO’s crude oil production, he revealed that the plant receives 20 million cubic feet of gas from AGIBA and 3 million from Zeitco.
The plant’s production is 140 tons of gas per day, 135 of which are shipped. SUCO contributes 35 million cubic feet of gas to be injected into its wells to maintain productivity, and 15 million to be injected into the wells of neighbors AGIBA. The plant is to receive 10 million cubic feet of gas from Petroamir, which is expected to raise production by 15-20 tons of LPG and 80 barrels of condensates per day. This will cause production of condensates to reach 600 barrels from the current 520.

The plant is designed and equipped with maximum safety precautions in order to minimize accidents and hazards. Man-entry certificates are issued based on oxygen percentages for entry into any area, and electric equipment is also operated only after a certificate is issued. In case of shut down or emergencies, the plant is equipped with the Programmed Logic Control (PLC) system, which responds to the situation automatically in conjunction with safety monitoring systems. There is a human response system for fires and accidents in case of failure of this system. Storage tanks for LPG are also outfitted to immediately sense and signal leaks.

He also confirmed that the EGPC maintains full oversight over the plant and issues instructions pertaining to its management, owing to the fact that SUCO is one of the EGPC’s joint-ventures.

EOG Editoral Team before boarding the Zoser Rig

Zoser: One of Ras Budran’s Offshore Rigs

SUCO operates 3 offshore platforms in its Ras Badran concession: RPA, RPP, and RPC. Unlike the RPA and RPC platforms, which contain only drilling platforms, RPP 2 holds both a drilling platform and a production platform. The Zoser rig is in the process of drilling a new well, Ras Badran-B13, which is expected to be drilled at a depth of approximately 12,000 feet, the average depth for wells in Ras Budran.

HSE Excellence

SUCO aspires to maintain the highest standards of health and safety in their operations, and has consistently been among the industry leaders in this field. It is the responsibility of the company’s HSE department to ensure that these standards are consistently met and that the company’s HSE policy is strictly implemented. This policy is decided by the highest executives in the company, and a separate budget is allocated for its sake.

The policy expresses the commitment of SUCO to preventing any injuries and adverse health effects from work activities, and to complying with all legislation relevant to HSE. It also reaffirms the company’s commitment to avoiding property damage and efficiently using natural resources and energy, in addition to following international oilfield standards in the design, construction and operation of SUCO’s plants and equipment.

The policy also conveys the company’s insistence on relying on reviews, risk assessments and regular auditing and on investigating incidents and accidents as promptly as possible, as well as minimizing waste of all types. A desire to co-operate with neighboring companies in technical information and support studies is also stated. Furthermore, the policy demands that both employees and contractors apply its tenets.

As a means of reinforcing the company’s HSE standards, external auditing is also practiced, so as to allow an outside party to confirm SUCO’s HSE credentials and suggest improvements. Auditing is done through international agencies such as the DNV, which awarded SUCO its DNV Level 7 certification, the first time it was awarded in Egypt.
The company was also granted the ISO 14001 certification and the OHSAS 18001 certification, both of them internationally recognized benchmarks of HSE. These certifications are not permanent, but are rather constantly followed up on. Anomalies are noted and the company informed, and there is a risk of losing the certification if major anomaly is not resolved.

No major anomalies were ever encountered during an audit at SUCO. Sewage release and radioactive levels are also monitored internally and externally in order to ensure optimum HSE conditions. Fires are also completely accounted for, as there is a dedicated fire extinguishing unit present at SUCO’s Zeit Bay concession, in addition to automatic response systems utilizing foam and cooling devices.

Maintaining high HSE standards and acquiring certifications affirming these standards is important to SUCO for several reasons. It affects not only the company’s costs, image and corporate integrity, but has a significant effect on insurance costs as well.

SUCO’s HSE manager at Zeit Bay stressed the importance of proper training in all areas of work, both related and non-related directly to safety and health, in order to preserve HSE standards.

By Ahmed Maaty, Mohamed El-Bahrawi


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