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April 26, 2019

Kekra drilling process hits another snag

ISLAMABAD: The spudding, that was to kick start on April 20, 2019 at Kekra-1 well in G-bloc, Pakistan’s ultra-deep sea after pause of 12 days, could not take off as it has hit another serious snag.

The blow out preventer (BOP) that prevents from any blow out or any kick pressure that can result into eruption of fire, has gone out of order and its repair is underway.

Sher Afgan, Additional Secretary and spokesman for Petroleum Division, confirmed the development saying the blow out preventer that is attached with valves at the end of rig has developed serious problems owing to which the drilling could not start on time.

Up till now, the official said, drilling is virtually stopped for the last 18 days and the status will last till the repair process of BOP is completed. However, Ghulam Mustafa, expert of oil and gas exploration and production, did not accept that the blow out preventer takes four to five days for repair, arguing that the BOP cannot be repaired, rather it can be upgraded by changing its affected spare parts and this process does not take more than one hour. He said the drilling machine may have developed other problem that is not being shared.

Earlier, the drilling got stalled on April 8 at the depth of 4,810 meters because of cementing and casing process which took almost 12 days to get completed. Now the issue of blow out preventer has emerged which according to the official of Petroleum Division is being coped with. And once the BOP’s repair is completed, the Mobile Exxon with ENI as operator at Kekra-1 well will start the drilling of the remaining 650-800 meters under second side tracking.

GA Sabri, former secretary of Petroleum Ministry, opined that BOP is one of the important tools that prevents the rig and whole apparatus from any blow out that is caused because of pressure kick that also may lead to eruption of fire. He said that BOP ensures the safety of the machine (rig and whole apparatus). When asked what will happen to the drilling as in May, the sea will turn rough because of high tide, Sabri said according to new weather forecast, monsoon has delayed so the chances of sea to turn rough have got minimised in May which is a good news.

Once the BOP issue is sorted, Kekra-01 well will enter a phase where the operator will, for the first time, begin to receive information that would help determine the well prospects. This would include results from LWD (logging while drilling), salinity testing, potential hydrocarbon traces in mud and rock samples and hydrocarbon kicks.

Time required to drill the remaining depth will depend upon the rate of penetration (RoP). The penetration rate is significantly slower for northern region of Pakistan than the southern region.

“We don’t yet have precedents to form a reliable estimate for the RoP for offshore Indus-G, where Kekra-01 is being drilled. An RoP of 10 meters per hour (generally considered low) would mean that it would take 80 hours or a little more than three days to reach the target depth.’’

After completion of drilling, the operator will likely do wire line logging which could take another three or four days. This will likely be followed by another casing and cementing exercise that can take four to six days. At this stage a substantial amount of information regarding the well prospects will be known, however, the results (discovery or dry well) will require completion of proper testing.