SHANA – More than 108 years of prospecting for hydrocarbon reservoirs in Iran have resulted in the exploration of the supergiant South Pars gas field and Azadegan oil field. Iran sits atop more than 100 oil and gas reservoirs, implying that at least one reservoir has been explored per year in Iran in the past century.
In 1966, a Swiss company explored the Ferdowsi oil field in the Persian Gulf, setting a record in the discovery of giant fields in Iran. The giant Ferdowsi oil field, which contains some gas in its Dalan and Kangan layers, is known to be the largest heavy crude oil field in the Middle East.
The Ferdowsi oil field is located west of the South Pars gas field and near the Golshan gas field. Ferdowsi is 190 kilometers from Bushehr Port and 88 kilometers away from coastline.
The first oil well in Ferdowsi was spudded in the year of its discovery in order to identify heavy crude oil layers. One year later, a second well was drilled to measure the potential of its gas layers.
Based on studies conducted on the two wells, master development plan studies were carried out by Swiss Adax SA for the description of the Ferdowsi oil field whose studies signaled huge heavy crude oil there. The oil field was estimated to hold 31 billion barrels of oil in place with a production capacity of 70,000 b/d.
Due to the significance of Ferdowsi’s heavy crude oil reserves, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) instructed the Petroleum Engineering and Development Company (PEDEC) with 3D seismic testing, drilling two appraisal wells for a more precise assessment, and taking samples from the crude oil layers in order to submit a renewed MDP.
The drilling of a third well started in April 2010 with a view to assessing the oil and gas layers of the field. Initial studies showed the existence of abundant heavy crude oil with various API gravities in the five layers, known as Bourgan, Daryan, Gadvan, Fahlyan and Sourmeh.
Ferdowsi Gas Potential in Lower Layers
NIOC ordered the second well drilling (F2) in order to examine the gas potential in the Dalan, Kangan and Faraqoun layers, which proved positive.
In 2005, Adax SA appraised the Ferdowsi field based on the first and second wells and estimated the in-place oil at 35 billion barrels with a recovery rate of 6%.
Development of Ferdowsi oil field is under way with a view to acquiring technology for heavy crude recovery in fractured carbonated reservoirs. It would also help find the most suitable method for heavy crude oil recovery.
Ferdowsi was offered for investment during a conference held in Tehran a couple of years ago to unveil the Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC), a new model of oil contract.
Full development of Ferdowsi would require five to seven years; however, due to its huge oil and gas deposits and the profitability of its development, investment for the development of this field continues to be highly attractive.
NIOC is envisaging buyback as the framework for the development of Ferdowsi. Due to the specialty of technology applied to the development of heavy crude oil and the necessity to use special tools, NIOC intends to offer this field to foreign companies for buyback-style development.
PEDEC is currently in talks with foreign companies to provide them with necessary information on the field. The foreign parties are required to sign memorandums of understanding before receiving more data.
In Phase 1, Ferdowsi would be producing 10,000 b/d, which would exceed 300,000 b/d in the next phases.
Transfer of Technology
Production of heavy crude oil and development of technologies required for transmission and refining of heavy crude have been talked about for decades all across the globe. In Iran, studies started to that effect after the discovery of oil fields containing heavy crude.
Technologies required for the production, transfer and treatment of heavy crude oil have already been developed in the world although they are being upgraded. Iran has not sit with fingers crossed. Iranian petroleum industry experts have applied various methods with regard to the production, transfer and refining of heavy crude oil on lab scale. Some of these technologies have already been applied at industrial level.
NIOC expects foreign companies to contribute to the development of such oil fields as Ferdowsi in a bid to bring in technology for the development of these fields, the objective pursued seriously by the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum.