The Mukhaizna field, discovered by Petroleum Development Oman over 25 years ago, began producing oil on Friday, 30 June, 2000. The field is expected to produce 10,000 barrels a day (b/d) by the end of the week as nine wells are brought on stream. Later this year, production will rise to 15,000 b/d from 16 wells.
The field, which is located halfway between Haima and Rima in south-central Oman, was discovered in 1975.
However, the high viscosity of Mukhaizna's oil rendered it uneconomic to produce. Yet the giant reservoir containing 2.4 billion barrels of oil was never far from PDO's mind. By the end of 1996, production technology had advanced far enough to rekindle serious interest in the field.
After considering various options, PDO was able to formulate a field-development plan that relied on diluting the heavy oil at each wellhead with lighter crude piped from the nearby Main Oil Line.
The mixture could then be piped to a newly built production station, where the produced water would be separated from the crude and re-injected deep underground.
The "dry" Mukhaizna/diluent mixture would then be exported through a 30-kilometer-long pipeline of 12-inch-diameter, to a new pumping station at Sadad. to join the Main Oil Line to the coast. The wells and production facilities would be remotely operated from PDO's facilities at Bahja, 90 kilometers away.
Engineers from PDO and two contractors worked closely together to bring this imaginative plan to reality. A team of PDO engineers spent 24 months working on conceptual and detailed designs for the infrastructure and surface facilities, receiving assistance from Stork & Partners Engineering Consultancy during the detailed design phase.
The Al Hassan Engineering Company carried out the construction of the production station, pipelines and other facilities, depending on Omani suppliers for many of the key pieces of equipment. At the peak of construction, the workforce at Mukhaizna reached 800.
The local community was also closely involved with the field development. "We have been employing locals as drivers, helpers and watchmen. Local community companies have constructed infield roads and provided water haulage, material transportation, fencing and general construction services", says senior project engineer Ali Al-Rasbi. "We take community issues very seriously, as do Al Hassan, who have a full-time public relations person on site."
"To be involved with a field-development project from design concept to first oil is very rewarding. It is an immensely enjoyable job for people to be working on, and it shows in the teamwork we have here," says project leader Benno Touw.
"I would like to thank the Government, the local community, the project team, Stork, Al Hassan and all service providers within and outside PDO for making this project successful within a very tight schedule."
The Mukhaizna field is the second of three new PDO fields to be brought on stream during 2000. The Burhaan field came on stream last month, and the Al Noor field is expected to begin production later this year.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)