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    NCOC to dredge Kashagan navigation channels


Caspian water levels have been falling for years.

by: Joe Murphy

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NCOC to dredge Kashagan navigation channels

The North Caspian Operating Co (NCOC) developing the Kashagan oil project in the Caspian Sea plans to dredge marine access channels, following a drop in water levels.

Caspian water levels have been falling for years. Kazakh authorities approved NCOC's dredging project last month. Some 18.5mn m3 of soil will be removed, to create channels measuring 56 km in length, with depths of more than 5 m and widths of between 80 and 115 m.

"The falling Caspian Sea level followed by the sea's shallowing in the area of Kashagan offshore facilities have limited the use of sea vessels," NCOC said in a statement on April 6. "It is posing a threat towards the safe operation of offshore production facilities that may lead to the complete shutdown of one of the largest fields in Kazakhstan."

Kashagan was brought into commercial production in late 2016, years behind schedule and at a cost of $50bn. The problematic field produced 300,000 barrels/day of oil last year, but NCOC has had difficulty keeping output stable, because of the complexity of its reservoirs. Additional development phases have been proposed that would raise production to above 1mn b/d.

NCOC’s members are Italy’s Eni, US major ExxonMobil, China’s CNPC, Royal Dutch Shell, France’s Total, Japan’s Inpex and Kazakhstan’s state-owned KazMunayGas.