Caspian Energy (CE): Mr. Isayev, could you please tell about the key objectives of the Company in the oil and gas market of Azerbaijan?
Ramin Isayev, General Director of SOCAR-AQS LLC: Our company was established in 2007 as a joint venture between the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and Absheron Drilling Company (AQS). As a co-founder, SOCAR brings to the joint venture more than a 160-years’ experience of industrial drilling. The other co-founder AQS brings advanced technologies and modern management methods to the joint venture.
The main purpose of the joint venture is the provision of drilling, construction, completion and the delivery of high-quality oil and gas wells to the customer in the shortest time and at the lowest cost in accordance with the highest international safety and environmental protection standards. Our second focus is on the development of organizational and individual capabilities with an eye on creating a modern, competitive drilling company. In the process of well drilling and construction we strictly adhere to the values and standards that are in place in our company, as well as customer requirements for maximum safety, good-quality and quick delivery of wells. During the entire period of operation our company has developed into an advanced drilling company which, thanks to quality and trouble-free service, has earned us a good reputation among customers and internationally within the industry.
Our goal is to drill and deliver highly productive and efficient oil and gas wells ahead of schedule, focusing our activities mainly on quality, safety and performance. The main area of operations of SOCAR-AQS LLC covers the drilling of oil and gas wells in the Caspian Sea.
The company has been a contractor member of the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) since 2009. SOCAR-AQS has been assessed and certified as meeting the requirements of ISO 9001: 2008, ISO 14001: 2004 and OHSAS 18001: 2007 international standards for provision of Integrated Offshore Oil & Gas Drilling and Well Services; Casing Running Services and BOP and Wellhead Equipment Repairing and Testing Services. SOCAR-AQS is currently progressing towards API Q2 certification which will hopefully be secured in the near future.
CE: Which projects is the company working at now? What achievements has the company enjoyed recently?
Ramin Isayev: At present SOCAR-AQS is involved in drilling operations at 5 fixed platforms: Platform #7 and #11 (Shallow Water Gunashli), Platform #20 (West Absheron) Platform #1 (Umid field) and Platform #6 (Bulla field). The drilling is performed for Azneft PU of the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR).
In April SOCAR-AQS LLC commenced drilling of well #316 from the recently commissioned Platform #7 at Shallow Water Gunashli Field. The well is expected to be drilled directionally into the Fasila Layer. SOCAR-AQS is constructing wells from the new platform, with 2 drilling rigs. During the initial stage, it is planned to drill 6 gas and 14 oil wells from the new platform.
At the same time, we commenced well construction work, using the new drilling rig Drillmec 3000 HP at Fixed Platform #6 in Bulla field. Four HP gas wells are to be drilled from this platform. Our objective is to carry out the construction of wells using special drilling technologies since the wells to be drilled feature high pressure and abnormal temperature characteristics.
SOCAR-AQS also recently completed drilling well #26 at the Offshore Fixed Platform #20 at Western Absheron field. We have already drilled and delivered to our customer 6 wells from Platform #20. The drilling is being performed with the new hydraulic drilling rig of HH 300 series. This totally automated and compact drilling rig is able to apply an additional 30 tonnes of weight on the drill bit.
Cost-effective and high-speed drilling is a very important factor these days. We are confident that by using modern methods and technologies in the oil and gas fields, which are of great importance for Azerbaijan. The company will hand over the completed wells to the customer in accordance with HSE regulations, without complications, ahead of schedule, and cost-effectively.
CE: Which innovations does the company use in drilling?
Ramin Isayev: All the high-tech equipment the company uses meets modern industry requirements and standards. This is sourced mainly from Western Europe and the United States.
I would like to highlight the new 3,000HP rig, the first ever of its kind used in Azerbaijan at the recently commissioned Platform #7 at shallow water Gunashli field. Installation of one of the drilling rigs, Hong Hua ZJ 70/4500 DZ, has already been completed. The second rig, Bentec 3000 HP, is manufactured in Germany.
It should be noted that the new generation drilling rig, Bentec 3000 HP, which is the first for Azerbaijan, has a number of advantages. The use of this drilling rig will create a unique opportunity to drill wells in productive strata to measured depths exceeding 9000 meters, with a large radius of deviation. One of the other unique characteristics of the Bentec 3000 HP drilling rig is that it is equipped with a safety system against dropped objects.
This environmentally and economically reliable new equipment has a highly effective noise isolation feature. It will definitely create an opportunity to drill and deliver wells of varying complexity ahead of schedule.
Also, I would like to mention the new generation drilling rig, Drillmec 3000 HP, that we use in Bulla field. It is unique in the national drilling industry and has a number of advantages. The new rig enables 13 5/8” casing running in one run with a total weight of 525 tonnes. The blowout preventer unit is rated for 1000 bar pressure and equipped with blind-shear ram. The internal blowout preventer (IBOP) used in the rig is also similarly rated for 1000 bar pressure and is remotely controlled.
In addition, it has a fully automated rig relocation system. This relieves us from cable and mud services line assembly and disassembly. The mud pumps are also equipped with the latest fluid end technology permitting fast and efficient fluid end maintenance.
I am proud that we are known as a company that continually introduces innovations within the national drilling industry of Azerbaijan and one that applies new technologies and techniques.
After passing the elimination round of the competition announced in 2015 by BP Azerbaijan among national companies, SOCAR-AQS reached the finals in the nomination for successful introduction of new techniques and technologies. We won “The Company of the Year Award” in the category for the best introduction of Advanced Technologies. These BP awards are highly prestigious and are significant achievements for our company, opening new horizons for us in the development of bilateral relations with BP.
CE: SOCAR-AQS has introduced new management methods. What impact do they have on the overall performance of the company?
Ramin Isayev: The FASTRAK programme, which is our new, innovative accelerated promotion programme, has initially been established for drilling personnel. As a company we realise that sustainable corporate growth depends on our ability to develop people, our most important resource.
Confirmation of practical ability and understanding is carried out using a variety of testing and evaluation methods with the intent of simultaneously developing their soft skills, management abilities and English language.
We believe that through the introduction of FASTRAK it provides our best opportunity in ensuring we acquire and retain highly qualified and skilled personnel in reserve to support our present increasing national and future international drilling projects.
FASTRAK is yet another demonstration of SOCAR-AQS commitment to our personnel’s learning and development while providing challenging career opportunities.
Also, I would like to highlight the country’s need for teaching aids that reflect the development of the drilling industry, innovations and experience of oil majors. The famous book named “Drilling Engineering’’ written by the American professor, J.J. Azar, who is well-known in area of drilling engineering, in cooperation with experienced consultant in the area of drilling, G. Robello, has been translated into the Azerbaijan language with the support of SOCAR-AQS. The main purpose of translation and further publication of the book was to acquaint the specialists, who receive education on the oil and gas specialization, and specifically, in the drilling engineering field, with modern technologies, methods and ways of taking optimal decisions.
Since the first days of its foundation, the company has been making a significant contribution towards the development of the drilling industry of Azerbaijan. In addition to the steady introduction of innovations, new equipment and technology, it is also our professional staff in SOCAR-AQS contributing to the company’s success iachievement. The company’s management regularly monitors the development of the staff, take steps to improve their knowledge and skills and constantly recognize their merits and achievements. I would like to note that since its establishment, SOCAR-AQS has been attaching particular importance to training of our young workforce. We have also announced our decision to award student scholarships for the 2015-2016 academic year to two students enrolled in the field of “Oil and Gas Engineering”.
Such projects motivate the youth, strengthen their sense of responsibility and broadly increase their chances of employment.
Thank you for the interview
Interview made by Ceyhun Bayramov and Olga Nagiyeva