The second billion tonnes of oil

The second billion tonnes of oil

In the mid-1970s, a new stage in the history of Tatneft Association and the whole oil-and-gas industry of Tatarstan had begun. From that moment on the very strategy of the industry’s development was changed. The extensive forms of oil production that were characteristic for the fifties and the sixties gradually gave way to more long-term targets.

The policy of accelerated development of oil production contributed not only to the development of the economy of the country, but also turned the USSR into one of the largest exporters of oil in the world. At the same time, it also had a number of negative consequences. Along with the objective costs connected to the absence, especially at the initial stage, of a clear plan of construction and operation of wells, imperfect technologies and insufficient knowledge in the field of the geology of oilfields, there also were some subjective costs caused by the storm methods and a wish to extract oil at highest possible speed. Accumulated, these factors began to materially affect the rates of oil production as early as in the beginning of the 1970s, but revealed themselves in full soon after the highest rate of oil production over the whole history of the oil industry of Tatarstan was achieved. The year of 1975, when oilmen of Tatarstan produced 103 million tonnes of oil, became the border line. The same year it was stated that «almost two billion tonnes of oil and over seventy billion cubic metres of gas were extracted from the time when the development of oilfields in the territory of Tataria had begun».

However, that year became the last one when the growth of oil production volumes was observed. From that time oil production was steadily decreasing. The reason was rightfully connected to the fact that many oilfields entered the late stage of development. The natural process of «ageing» of oilfields, when the structure of oil reserves worsens, with the content of high-gravity oil beginning to decrease, and the content of low-gravity, bituminous fractions beginning to increase, usually starts when approximately a half, sometimes even one third of the reserves were extracted.

The new realities called for amendment of the conducted technological and geological-exploration policy with focusing on those trends in production and science that would help restrain the rates of reduction of oil production, making that natural process more planned.

The signs of reduction of rates of oil production worried the leadership of the industry. In 1976, the Council of Ministers of the USSR even adopted a special Resolution «On Measures to Ensure the Fullest Possible Extraction of Oil from Entrails», which indicated the necessity to more actively use modern technological methods of oil production.

Of special significance, under conditions of reducing rates of oil production and exhaustion of oil reserves, became the new methods of additional exploration of the productive layers, as well as the adjustment and more detailed study of previously obtained geological and geophysical materials. All that required a closer cooperation between geologists and scientists of TatNIPIneft research institute. Such cooperation proved to be quite fruitful. The reserves of oil explored with the help of additional exploration made up annually up to fifty per cent of the aggregate growth in the Association, with expenditures being several times less as compared to conventional methods of oil exploration at new oilfields. Obviously, the additional volumes of annual growth provided by such means could not compensate for the total reduction of the rate of oil production, but still it was additional exploration that became the main and stable source of replenishment of oil reserves.

In 1970, there began a targeted study of bitumen-bearing Permian deposits in the Eastern Trans-Kama region. The conducted studies proved the promising nature and profitability of their development with the use of thermal methods (fire flooding, steam drive). In particular, using the fire flooding on a test site of the Mordovo-Karmalsky oilfield, oilmen obtained high oil recovery rate of nearly 45 per cent. Another promising direction of geological explorations of Tatneft Association was the study of pre-Palaeozoic rocks of the continental platform by drilling of ultra deep wells.

The course of the country’s and industry’s leadership for preservation of a high rate of oil production imposed special responsibility on specialists in drilling of wells and their development. More attention was paid to the reduction of well construction time. Very important in this respect was the competition of drillers conducted under the motto: «Turn oil wells into production line» that was organized on the initiative of the drilling team of master D. Nouroutdinov from the Almetyevsk Board for Drilling Works. To save time spent on waiting for the development of the wells, he suggested performing a part of the works by drilling teams, while leaving only specialized works on the stimulation of inflow of oil to the development teams. As early as in 1976, his team, working that way, developed sixteen out of twenty drilled wells. All in all, drilled that year were over 30,000 m of rocks, of them 5,000 above the plan.

Mastering of the new methods of drilling became one of the most important achievements of that period. In particular, widely used was the method of directional drilling. In 1976, a conceptually new approach to the development of deposits of high-viscous oil was found after the commissioning of the first seven horizontal wells. Then came the turn for the development of heavy oil and natural bitumens. Also continued the work on reducing the amount of burned gas containing hydrogen sulphide, for which purpose a gas purification unit was built at the Minnibayevsky Central Collection Point to purify gas from hydrogen sulphide, and over hundred kilometres of the gas pipeline were built for collection and transportation of gas containing hydrogen sulphide.

All these measures brought certain positive results. By the end of 1980, 98 per cent of the Tatarstan oil were extracted at integrated automated oilfields. The construction of wells was organized in twelve administrative districts of Tataria, as well as in Western Siberia, Udmurtia, Kirov-, Kuibyshev- and Saratov regions. On 2 October 1982 Tatneft Association extracted the second billion tonnes of oil since the beginning of development of oilfields in the republic.