2009FeaturesGlobal and Regional MarketsSeptember/October

Kuwait, Oman boost Middle East drilling activity with deep drilling, steam flood projects

By Jerry Greenberg, contributing editor

While the Middle East region hasn’t been affected by the global financial crisis as much as other areas, it still is not immune to downturns in the oil and gas and other industries. When the price of oil was well above $100/bbl, everyone was happy. They were less happy as it began its steady decline to below $40. However , as oil inched its way up to around $60/bbl (as of late July), drilling activity has also followed to a certain degree.

Oil companies operating in Kuwait and Oman in particular are ramping up E&P activity, including a significant steam flood project by Occidental in Oman. By the end of 2009, Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) expects to at least double the number of rigs it operates. Drilling contractors and service companies, of course, are happy to support the operators’ increasing activity. These companies include Ensign Energy Services, Kuwait Drilling Company (KDC), Burgan (Hamid Al Hamid), Nabors and Sinopec, all of which were awarded contracts to provide mostly newbuild rigs for drilling in Kuwait and Oman.

KOC’s plans are to increase its oil production to about 4 million bbl/day by 2020 from approximately 2.14 million bbl/day early this year. In 2008, the company issued tenders calling for 27 rigs, essentially doubling the number of rigs it operates. Several of those tenders materialized into firm contracts this year.

Among them are five medium-sized rigs awarded to Sinopec – three 1,500-hp units and two 1,000-hp rigs. These mark the Chinese company’s first foray into Kuwait as a drilling contractor. Deliveries are set to begin by the end of this year. The five-year contract is reported to be worth about $400 million.

These rigs will work for KOC’s development group, which is responsible for the shallow- to medium-depth wells to around 12,000 ft. The group primarily uses rigs in the 550- to 1,500-hp range, with some 2,000-hp rigs.

KOC’s deep drilling group initially began with two teams in February 2002 under the exploration group umbrella. In 2008, the deep drilling group and its two teams were established as a separate entity.

Kuwait Oil Company is contracting Kuwait Drilling Company’s Rig 15, shown here working on development well MN-132 in the Minagish field in West Kuwait.

“There initially were two rigs for each team,” said David McKinnell with TOTAL, which works with KOC under a technical assistance agreement. “The number of rigs increased to three, and that number was doubled to six rigs for each team.”

The group presently has four operational teams and one engineering team. A fifth operational team will be added to operate four newbuild workover rigs scheduled for delivery during 2011. The deep workover rigs will feature 1,500 hp with a 15,000-psi BOP and choke manifold for high pressures.

KDC, Burgan, and Nabors are all supplying rigs to the deep drilling teams. All are 3,000-hp rigs with drilling depth ratings from 16,000-30,000 ft. Nabors’ rigs are its first in the country, according to Mr McKinnell.

The rigs are used for deep exploration, greater than 20,000 ft for gas prospects. In the North Kuwait gas project, the rigs drill exploration and delineation wells to 16,000 ft and greater. KOC also uses the rigs for drilling light-oil producers in the west, south and east regions of the country. These wells are drilled to the high-pressure reservoirs and prospects in the Jurassic formation and deeper. The basic drilling program consists of seven casing strings, necessary due to the complex lithologies and pressure trends encountered.

The 13 ½-in. casing is set to the Hith formation, with three casing strings (10 ¾-in., 7 7/8-in. and a 5-in. liner) below the 13 ½-in. casing.

“The Hith is kind of the junction between cretaceous and Jurassic,” Mr McKinnell explained. “Below that there is a 1,000-ft salt dome where the pressures really ramp up through the salt and begin to subside on the other side of the salt.”

“We have one set of reservoir zones at a higher pressure than the other, which is why we use the 7 5/8-in. and 5-in. casing below the salt.”

Each rig drills on average two deep wells per year. Seventy wells are planned for the North Kuwait gas development project. Each well is expected to average 15 MMcf/day of gas and 5,000 bbl/day of light oil, he said.

To help accomplish the major drilling project, KOC plans to increase the number of its rigs in its deep drilling group from 12 to 17 by mid-2011, not including the four new workover rigs being tendered. Additionally, plans are under consideration for a new 4,000-hp rig for deep-gas exploration, plus a jackup rig for offshore prospects.

“It’s in the feasibility phase now regarding a jackup to drill in Kuwait Bay,” Mr McKinnell said. “We are thinking about a jackup because it needs to have the same specifications as the land rigs, such as 3,000 hp and 15,000-psi BOP.”

Drilling contractors and service companies view the increasing Kuwait E&P activity as sustainable, at least for the next five years, providing the right business environment for companies to grow.

For example, KDC has already dramatically increased its onshore fleet and has additional growth in the works. Another company, Arabian Energy Services (AES), was formed in 2008 to provide a complete range of drilling, workover services and rental tools to the region through various partnerships and acquisitions.

“We have grown dramatically during 2008 and early 2009,” said Sulaiman Al-Musallam, technical manager for KDC. “We have 18 rigs now, which is about 200% growth, and we have five more new rigs coming.”

The new rigs will be delivered during 2009 and 2010, all with firm drilling commitments. “We have been told that we were awarded a tender for two more rigs and possibly will participate in another two rigs, each of which are 3,000-hp units,” Mr Musallam said.

In addition to Kuwait, KDC operates one rig in Libya and two rigs for Chevron in the divided zone between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Also, the company has been approached by Chevron to work in Iraq, according to Mr Musallam. “If things become a little more favorable, I think we might consider that,” he said.

Mr Musallam noted that KDC definitely is interested in the prospect of providing a jackup for KOC in the future.

“The financial crisis has affected the oil markets,” said Meshal Al-Ghanim, assistant vice president, operations, for AES. “But I think there will be an expansion of (E&P) activity now that oil prices have risen to about $60 or higher.

“The higher price means the projects are back to the economical phase they were meant to be.”

Burgan Drilling’s Rig 124 is drilling exploration well AR-1 in the Arifjan prospect in southeast Kuwait.

Mr Ghanim said he believes workovers and well interventions in the Middle East have not been as affected by lower oil prices as much as in other areas since the resource is owned by national oil companies, which seek to maximize their production. This is in contrast to operators who work under production sharing agreements with various governments, he said, who mainly seek to develop as much new oil as possible.

AES is owned by ZAHRA Group Holding, the founder of Kuwait Energy Company. AES’ business model includes entering alliances with companies with technical expertise in order to create joint ventures to provide drilling services, well management services and rental tool services in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. The company believes there is a strong and sustainable demand for oilfield services, with continuing demand providing access to new players. The company plans to pursue acquisitions to obtain controlling shares in oilfield service companies to create value, including acquiring drilling rigs for the purpose of entering into long-term drilling contracts.

AES is not active in Kuwait, focusing primarily on Oman, Yemen, Iraq and Egypt. “We will open our first branch in Oman in July or August 2009, and then we will try to acquire two or three companies that own drilling rig services and drilling equipment, and service companies,” Mr Ghanim said.

“We are not going to be establishing a new service company with a new name,” he continued. “What we are trying to do is acquire a company and change it to be an AES company while continuing to provide the same services.”

AES’ plan to pursue operations initially in Oman may be a good strategy as E&P activity there appears to be increasing. For example, Ensign, which has worked in Oman continuously for more than 20 years, recently provided five of its Automated Drilling Rigs (ADR) for long-term contracts for an 840-well drilling program.

Those rigs joined three Ensign rigs already in the country. This drilling program will include vertical injector wells, horizontal producers and re-entries of existing wells for completion in horizontal sections.

Ensign is providing the five new ADR rigs under long-term contract to Occidental in Oman for a steam flood project. Oxy’s ADR rigs range from 500-750 hp and are capable of drilling to 9,000-10,000 ft. Oxy’s rigs, built in Nisku, Alberta, Canada, and shipped to Oman via Houston, are coiled tubing-capable. They can move in four to five loads and be rigged up at the next well site within a couple of hours.

Oxy will utilize the rigs at its Mukhaizna field in south-central Oman, where it has implemented an aggressive drilling and development program, including a major pattern steam flood project for enhanced oil recovery. At the end of 2008, gross daily production in the Mukhaizna field was over six times higher than the production rate in September 2005, when Oxy assumed operations of the field.

The company plans to steadily increase production through continued expansion of the project.

Despite the recent project for Oxy in Oman, Ed Kautz, executive vice president USA & international operations for Ensign, noted a softening of activity in the Middle East. “Activity has dropped off in Oman and Libya,” he said. “However, they haven’t been as affected as, say, Canada and the US because of the lead time to get their prospects up and running.

“Some of these operators are looking so far ahead that they can’t turn back.”

That’s the case with Oxy. “We have been working on his project (for Oxy) for probably a year and a half to two years,” Mr Kautz said. “By the time the downturn began, we probably were 90%-95% complete on the rigs.”

Related Articles


  1. Pingback:

    Kuwait, Oman boost Middle East drilling activity with deep … | Drakz News Oman

  2. Good upcoming prospects is true but need high qualified management to obtain the maximum profits

  3. Can some one help me to findthe concrn person of ” Ensignenergy Kuwait ” ??? please

  4. looking for a drilling job.worked in yemen for ndil as driller on 1000hp topdrive can rig.

  5. Ahmed, yes indeed

    Shahed, i might assist, Kindly pass the concern person name.

  6. looking for job,presently working in o&o eng co. in kuwait as hvac supervisor in kuwait oil company,i know very well about oil field south,east,west,north

  7. looking for a drilling job.worked in Algeria for Sonatrach -ENTP- as a driller on Nov Ideal rig 1500hp topdrive NOV TDS-11S.

  8. i Sir,
    My name is Naveed Ahmed. Currently i am working
    in CCDC“CNPC Chuanqing Drilling Engineering Company
    Ltd.“(CCDC 059/173)/GWDC”Pakistan Branch as a
    Derrickman.I have very good drilling experience in
    different drilling companies in Pakistan like
    (CCDC 2 Years,BUrgan Company (Bahrain) 1.8years,
    Mari Gas MGCL 1.6 years,KCA DEUTAG 1 Year).

    1) My Current rotation is 28/14
    2) My Current Salary is 600 US$ Per month
    3) My Availabilty 01 week notice period
    4) Full Name: Naveed Ahmed
    5) Valid International Passport Number: KQ1151401
    6) Post Applying For: Derrickman
    7) Nationality: Pakistani
    8) Age: 24 Years
    9) Working Experience. 5 Years
    10)Expected Salary : 1000US$ Per month

    Naveed Ahmed

  9. i,m mechanical rig engineer from egypt

  10. Sir,
    I am Seniour Rig Mechanic in Focus Energy LTD in drilling in India.I am 7 Years Experence in drilling.I want to go out of India.If you have vacancies in your Company then please gave me one chance to work in your Company.Thanks
    Md Abidur Ahmed.

  11. Dear sir,
    i m working alredy in pakistan ccdc as flooman/crowsuperviser
    my join data this compney 14/1/2005 to till data i working hard and good as you like give me job in your compney i wait your call plz cont me this cell number 00923008343867


    Nasir Mehmood

  12. Dear,
    I’m working already in pakistan oil field Assistanted Electrician five year exepricean and i working hard and good as u like me job in your comyney i’waiting your call plz cont me call 00923005578878.
    from Zeeshan Ahmed

  13. Over 11 years experience as Drilling and completations fluids engineer,Experienced on Land Rigs, Semi Submersibles,Jack Ups
    I looking for a job in meddle east.
    I from PERU.
    e mail. magno_jara@hotmail.com

  14. i have 12years exprience as a rig electrician in saudi arabia dalma energy.

  15. Good Evening.

    I am an Electrical Engineer with strong knowledge in PLC and drives Troubleshooting.
    Working with National Oilwell Varco for the past two years.
    Knowledge in troubleshooting and maintenance of TopDrive TDS-9/11SA, tds-8SA.
    KEMS control with Autodrilling.
    Can work on SCR
    pls inform me if there is any vacancy in offshore as well as onshore oil rigs.
    I have been working as a service engineer on both onshore as well as offshore rig in India.
    Pls contact me on 9167394432

  16. Dear Sir/Madam,
    i,m highly interested in working for your company .I had last worked in kuwait for Kuwait oil Company.Please info me regard

  17. i am usman working in IRAQ as ASSISTANT DRILLER from more than 1 year.i am looking for better opportunity.

  18. Ge Petroleum Equipment Co is a large and global assembly supplier specialized in petro drilling equipment,hydraulic tools,industry valves and automotive tyre.

    NAME: Mbah Hansel Tetche
    DATE OF BIRTH: 22nd November 1987
    SEX: Male
    NATIONALITY: Cameroonian
    ADDRESS: Buea
    TEL: (237) 75 90 44 63 / 95 46 40 42
    2006-2007 Cameroon College of Art & Science (Ccast Kumba) G.C.E Advanced Level
    2004-2005 Cameroon Comprehensive College (C.C.C Kumba) G.C.E Ordinary Level
    2008 -1999 Catholic School First School Leaving Certificate
    2008-2010 O.I.C Mechanical Engineering
    Attestation in Auto Mechanic Toronto & Son Garage

    2012-2013 1 year C.D.C as a Mechanical Engineer
    2013 6months Tellcar & Tamso PLC Limited
    I recently travel to Tanzania for a Football Test Match.

    English Excellent Good
    French Good Fair

    – Music, Reading Newspaper, Watching Football Matches & Love Traveling.

  20. Dear sir,
    Greetings from Shivraj G.K

    I am a offshore Assist. Rig Electrician in JAGSON INTERNATIONAL in India SINCE 2012.
    I am seeking a job in Kuwait drilling company.
    If any offer for me please contact to- +91 9689719993. or email to shivrajgk3385@yahoo.com

    Thank you
    with best regards,

    Shivraj G.K

  21. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
    International subsidiary
    Akin Adesola Street,
    Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria

    Dear Applicant,

    The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is recruiting workers from any part of the world and below is the listed current positions where expatriates are currently needed in our company. So you are required to select any suitable position which you are qualified for and also send us your current CV for our confirmation.

    1#Senior Piping Designer
    2#Project Engineer
    3#Piping Engineer
    4#Structural Designer
    5#Senior Electrical Designer
    6#Mechanical Package Engineer
    7#Part Time Purchasing Assistant
    8#Warehouse Person
    9#Workpack Engineers
    10#Resource Planner
    11#Project Engineer
    12#Engineering Coordinator
    14#Structural Designer
    15#QA/QC Engineer
    17#Planning Engineer
    19#Cost Engineer
    20#Project Engineer
    21#Lead Instrument Designer
    22#Lead HVAC Engineer
    23#Senior HVAC Designer
    24#Drilling Mechanical Engineer
    25#PDMS Pipe Support Designer
    26#Piping Designer
    27#CAD Operator
    28#Electrical Designer
    29#Instrument Designer
    30#PDMS Structural Administrator
    31#PDMS Architectural Designer
    32#Layout Designer
    34#Document Controller
    35#Research/Development Manager
    36#Manufacturing Sciences
    37#Clinical Research Associate
    37#Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
    38#Pharmaceutical Sales Rep
    40#VP Operations/VP Engineering
    41#Senior Drug Safety Associate
    42#Safety Officer
    43#Technical Writer
    44#Quality Assurance Manager
    45#Process Engineer (Upstream/Downstream)
    46#Biomedical Engineer And Related Fields
    47#Business Development Manager
    49#Clinical Trial Assistant
    50#IT Director/CIO
    51#Medical Records Technician
    52#Associate Director Learning Management

    We await your response in this regard.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Engr. Kelvin Moses
    Expatriate Human Resources Asst. Manager
    Email: k.moses53@yahoo.com

  22. SIR,

  23. I have more than 11 years experience in oil field with Bsc in Business & management and Diploma in Mechanical & electrical with a high level of leadership in HSE ; I have worked in different type of Rigs ranging from 3000/1500/750 HP , work over, during the period of my service in field I have commissioned more than four ADR(automatic drilling rigs) in Mukheizna South of Oman for the 1st time in Middle east and two work over in North , I have Engineering in Mechanical & Nebosh IGC3 in safety, I’m mature individual with the ability to adapt with the changing times, who wishes to expand his carrier horizons by applying his skills and knowledge to it full effect, as I have vast knowledge in Fishing operation & drilling Horizontal wells exploration, completion & coring

  24. sir my name sham my expi in soil drilling job this floor man job me looking

  25. Dear Sir,
    Please find the attachment my update CV for the port of RIG ELECTRICIAN, I related with drilling field last Eight (8) years working As a senior rig electrician for further inform-an please in the attachment, I shell wait your positive response thank.
    Kind Regards
    CONT NUMBER +923005578878, +923325950770

  26. hi sir i have 11 years in drilling offshore jakup rig i am looking to assistant driller or derrick man please visit my profile in this link ae.linkedin.com/pub/mohammad-maaodhah/95/530/61a/

  27. I am assistant driller DAQING PETROLEUM Saudi Arab if you have job please chance me
    contact no,00923005588479 Saudi 00966580230811

  28. I am petroleum’s engineer with experience in Drilling and Workover.

    I want to take something chance to Job in Kuwait..

    I have experience as Wellsite and Company Man.

    Please contact me.


  29. I am Moayad Mohammad Mini
    I work in oil field since 1994 till now
    I work as assistant driller for 2 years & Driller for 10 years & as toolpusher in Syrian petroleum
    after that I work as Night toolpusher in NPS ( national petroleum service )
    in Syria about 3 years and in North Iraq from 1013 till September 2015

    I am looking for Driller or assistant driller
    ( minimoayad@hotmail.com )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button