Onshore/Offshore Facilities

ADNOC Flows First Oil From Marginal Belbazem Offshore Block

The national oil company credits lean operating practices and AI for making the three-well, 45,000 B/D project economically viable.

Source: Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) said it achieved first oil production in February from the Belbazem offshore block with an expected output of 45,000 B/D of light crude and 27 MMcf/D of gas at peak.

Operated by Al Yasat Petroleum, a joint venture with ADNOC owning 60% and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) holding 40%, the Belbazem block is part of ADNOC's strategy to ramp up production to 5 million B/D by 2027 along with helping the UAE meet its own gas demand requirements. Established in 2014, Al Yasat focuses on marginal field development.

Located almost 75 miles northwest of Abu Dhabi, the Belbazem block encompasses three marginal offshore fields: Belbazem, Umm Al Salsal, and Umm Al Dholou.

ADNOC has highlighted that the project’s capital efficiency was aided by operational synergies with adjacent fields, a lean operating model, and artificial intelligence (AI).

In 2021, ADNOC awarded $744 million to UAE’s National Petroleum Construction Company to build three offshore wellhead towers, one for each field, and for the installation of interconnected subsea pipelines and power cables linked to the existing facilities on Zirku Island, approximately 37 miles from the Belbazem field. Additional new infrastructure within the project scope includes water injection, produced-water treatment, and gas-handling facilities.

In an effort to ensure the marginal fields could be developed profitably, ADNOC emphasized the use of a competitive front-end engineering design (FEED) process which was outlined in a technical paper in 2019.

In SPE 197761, authors from the national oil company and its joint venture subsidiary noted that in deviating from traditional practice, each qualifying contractor was asked to submit bids based on their own unique development designs. They explained that this approach enabled the competing firms "to break free from [the operator’s] long-established rules and procedures that may not be tailored to innovative or disruptive design."

ADNOC said the new approach slashed its normal tendering time by up to a year and saved approximately $190 million in capital expenditure. Integration with existing facilities at the ADNOC-operated Satah Al Razboot field further contributed to cost savings.

Another notable component of the project spotlighted by ADNOC is called WellInsight. The AI technology, developed by AIQ—a joint venture between ADNOC and the Abu Dhabi-based cloud computing company Group 42— is described as a borehole image- interpretation technology that reduces drilling time and costs using machine learning and supervised computer vision for automatic formation dip picking.

AIQ underscores four key areas where then commercially available software advances well log analysis and interpretation: resistivity and conductivity analysis through borehole images; in-situ and rock-stress assessments; automated modeling for wellbore stability; and providing insights into reservoir heterogeneity, including secondary porosity, permeability estimation, and the selection of perforation intervals.

Al Yasat operates two concession areas: one exclusively offshore and another is a mix of offshore and onshore prospects. The offshore concession includes the Bu Haseer (which was the first to come online in 2018), Belbazem, Umm Al Salsal, Umm Al Dholou, and Arzanah oil fields. The combined onshore/offshore block lies to the southwest of Abu Dhabi city.

For Further Reading

SPE 197761 FEED Competition for Mega Upstream Projects by Salah Al Ali, Shaikh Al Habshi, Ameed Al Ashqar, and Saud Bin Ruken, ADNOCAl Yasat Petroleum Operation Company Ltd.