Cairn to launch world’s largest oil recovery project in Rajasthan

Barmer, Dec 13 (IANS) Oil and gas major Cairn India is to launch the world’s largest enhanced oil recovery programme in the Rajasthan desert using polymer injection technology for recovering more oil at its processing terminal near here.

The Mangala processing terminal in Barmer district, which laid the foundation of Cairn India’s “Rajasthan Project” and transformed the company with the discovery of its first oil well Mangala-1, in 2004, is now home to Cairn’s new polymer injection facility where new cutting-edge technology Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) has been introduced to maximise the potential.

The world’s largest oil well discovered in 2004, Mangala-1 was the company’s first discovery after many 3D seismic explorations.

“It was in the sandy undulations of the Thar desert almost two decades ago that the company’s convention-shattering exploration efforts proved successful on the 14th attempt,” said Cairn India director Suniti Bhat.

He said the breakthrough gave birth to the “Rajasthan Project” — a vision that has stood the test of time and has been an enabler in bringing India a step closer to energy security.

Explaining the new EOR programme, he said polymer flood or addition of polymers to water, used particularly in older and declining oil wells and reservoirs, enables better displacement of oil and improves the recovery factor.

The successful polymer flood pilot project in Mangala produced incremental oil of nearly 11 percent.

The company’s Central Polymer Facility (CPF) will, by end of the current fiscal, cover the entire Mangala field spread over 3,111 sq. km. west of Barmer town.

“Current polymer injection rates and production performance have reduced risks significantly, from both the perspective of surface facilities and reservoir,” the company said.

Some of the pre-producer wells have already been converted into polymer injection wells and modifications to the existing facilities for handling polymerised fluids are nearing completion.

Since the first barrel produced in 2009, the block has delivered more than 300 million barrels. Cairn has a total of 141 oils wells in Rajasthan — 117 injector wells and 24 producers.

The bringing together of the best of technologies at the lowest capital expenditures in the world has had an immense bearing on Cairn’s profitability and financial resilience, officials said.

“Less than 10 percent of energy companies in the world can be cash- positive in this kind of an economic environment,” chief executive Mayank Ashar told IANS.

“An additional recovery of 40-50 million barrels of unswept oil still in-ground at the Bhagyam field is expected. The company estimates a capital cost for the Bhagyam EOR project at $260 million, resulting in a development cost of $5-6 per barrel,” he added.

Ashar said that over the years, Cairn India’s single biggest contribution is its role in achieving energy self-sufficiency for the country through introduction of smart next-generation technology in the oil and gas sector.

Besides the new technology launch, the company also gave a briefing on its CSR activities in the areas of skill development, education, health and sanitation and water and renewable energy.

“CSR is an integral element of our business, as we believe that sustainable development in our area of operation is essential for inclusive growth,” Ashar said.

The visiting journalists were taken to one of the 37 schools that Cairn has opened in the district. The schools have 250 teachers mentoring over 7,000 students.

Apart from providing specialised doctors and training 1,300 health workers in the district, the company has also launched mobile health vans that cater to the medical needs of nearly 300,000 people.

It has also established 34 water purifying plants serving nearly 50,000 community members in the district, besides building 2,800 toilets under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.

The company also revealed that it has approached Delhi High Court seeking an early government decision on extension of its contract for the Barmer block, as also a better price for the crude oil produced.

(The writer was in Barmer on the invitation of Cairn India. He can be contacted at sourabh.k@ians.in)

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