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KEPCO Eyes Deepwater Technology

The big depth of water in Iran’s sector of the Caspian Sea, changing climatic and ecological conditions, complexity and high risk of operations, prevention management and fight on possible crises, tough logistics due to long distance from coasts, the landlocked status of the Caspian Sea and its lack of access to high seas and other


operating restrictions are among issues that have required the Khazar Exploration and Production Company (KEPCO) to conduct research projects.

In the meantime, observing environmental obligations and carrying out safe operations particularly in the offshore sector are among the KEPCO priorities. Therefore, concentration on research activities and interaction with scientific and research centers in the country on deepwater technologies is inevitable. In order to review the latest conditions of research projects at KEPCO, Iran Petroleum has conducted an interview with Ali Osouli, its CEO.


Q: To begin the interview, would you please tell us about KEPCO’s research and technology activities?

A: KEPCO’s research activities have existed since the very establishment of the company in order to orientate and constantly improve its activities in research and technology and also in geological studies, exploration as well as deepwater production and drilling. But these activities became serious in 2009 and all research activities have since been concentrated in this unit. The perspective pursued by this unit is to reach the top spot in the management of research and technology in deepwater exploration and drilling as well as transfer, development and indigenization of these technologies. To that effect, certain strategies have been defined and implemented.


Q: What has the R&D department of KEPCO done in deep waters so far?

A: In a bid to achieve its objectives and strategies and with focus on its main activity (deepwater), the R&D unit of KEPCO moved to define the roadmap for deepwater technologies in the Iranian calendar year 1393 in collaboration with universities from across the country. The objective of compilation of this roadmap has been to acquire the required technologies for operation in deep waters, identifying countries and leading technologies in this sector, identifying technologies related to this activity, assessing the country’s status quo in terms of deepwater technologies and identifying training facilities in the country. This comprehensive plan is currently under implementation, and is in its final stages.


Q: What kind of research activities are done in this unit?

A: Research activities in KEPCO are defined and pursued in view of realizing objectives and carrying out missions assigned with regard to two infrastructural sectors (potential building of research centers in technology research and designing and development of


deepwater operation equipment). Furthermore, hubs have been set up for research in deepwater as part of infrastructural measures for creating potential in scientific and research centers. To that effect, I can point to Sahand University of Technology in Tabriz, Isfahan University of Technology, Sharif University of Technology, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Research Institute of Petroleum Industry (RIPI), University of Golestan, University of Zanjan and Iranian National Institute for Oceanography and Atmospheric Science.

In order to conduct studies, exploration, drilling and production in the Caspian Sea and the three northern coastal provinces (Guilan, Mazandaran and Golestan), the R&D section of KEPCO supports demand-based research projects like enhanced recovery from hydrocarbon reservoirs, application of latest technologies, defining a model for enhanced production, resource studies, establishment of industrial research centers at universities and domestic and foreign institutes, preventing environmental pollution and application of international standards for improving research projects.


Q: Could you tell us about research projects that have so far been conducted at KEPCO?

A: Conducting drilling platform model tests by Amir Kabir vessel, examining mooring circumstances and environmental conditions, seismic testing, zoning of earthquake and possibility of tsunami and crisis in the three provinces of Guilan, Mazandaran and Golestan and the southern section of the Caspian Sea, drawing up zoning map, studying and examining sustainability software, loading and offloading of storage tanks, balancing load on Amir Kabir vessel and offering solutions for building storage facilities are among the most important research projects which have been concluded. They have been realized thanks to efforts by Iranian specialists and under supervision and management of KEPCO. A comprehensive project for gathering and combating oil pollutants in the Caspian Sea is the last completed project with the objective of risk management and fighting the spread of oil pollutants in the Caspian Sea.

Numerical modeling of oil pollution spread with the objective of developing a system for simulating how the oil pollutants spread across the Caspian Sea are among the most important objectives envisaged in this project. It has been done based on gathering and classification of hydrodynamic data including meteorology and defining the regime of dominant winds in the southern part of the Caspian Sea and the waves created by wind

and storm in the southern part of the Caspian Sea based on climate data gathered on the Caspian Sea for 32 years and finally after the data is fed into the aforesaid system, 72


 different scenarios have been defined for the spread of oil pollution and examination of the behavior of the spread of pollution. Laying the foundation for conducting other management and preventive studies under conditions of crisis and establishing a GIS database are among the most significant findings of this project.

Since Iran and National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) have constantly demanded that oil and gas contractors operating in neighboring countries respect environmental standards, implementation of these projects can present a new definition of research and operating projects in the Caspian Sea and also help set up a rich databank for a better risk management under conditions of crisis as well as accurate, scientific and timely decision-making for combating spread of oil pollution in the Caspian Sea.