Russian oil and gas firm Lukoil has started drilling an exploration well at the Shirotno-Rakushechnaya prospect structure near the VI Grayfer field in the northern part of the Caspian Sea.

The Shirotno-Rakushechnaya exploration well is contained in 4.5m water depth. It will be drilled to a target depth of 1,650m using Astra rig, which is said to be specially designed for drilling in shallow waters.

According to Lukoil, the structural tectonic zone of the well is identical to that at the Yury Korchagin, Valery Grayfer and Vladimir Filanovsky fields. These fields were discovered in 2000, 2001, and 2005 respectively.

In a press statement, Lukoil said: “The company has also begun to study Khazri and Titonskaya features of a new block in the south of the same sea area within the East Sulaksky bank, and is currently drilling the second well to the target depth of 5,200m.

“The sea is 45m deep at the point of well. Drilled at Khazri feature from jack-up floating rig Neptune, the well will deliver data on oil and gas content and explore for oil and gas deposits in terrigenous and carbonate sediments of the Jurassic-Cretaceous period.”

Under its drilling programme for Caspian fields, the Russian firm is constructing the sixth well at riser block platform at the Yury Korchagin field.

Lukoil noted that this well is being executed by the Mercury jack-up floating rig.

Last month, Lukoil installed a jacket for an accommodation platform in the VI Grayfer field in the Caspian Sea.

In April this year, the company announced the launch of the jacket for the accommodation platform as part of the field development.