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  1. Project
5 August 2019

Upper Zakum Offshore Oil Field Development, Abu Dhabi

Located approximately 84km north-west off the Abu Dhabi islands, Upper Zakum Oilfield has an estimated 50 billion barrels of oil reserves.
The capacity of Upper Zakum Field is expected to increase to one million bopd by 2024. Image courtesy of Exxonmobil.
Processed oil from the Upper Zakum field is transported by pipeline to Zirku Island for further processing, storage and export. Image courtesy of ExxonMobil.
National Petroleum Construction (NPCC) and Technip are responsible for the construction of the offshore facilities as part of phase one.

Located approximately 84km north-west of the Abu Dhabi islands, Upper Zakum Oilfield has an estimated 50 billion barrels of oil reserves. The field produces 640,000 barrels of oil a per day (bpd).

Upper Zakum is the second-largest offshore oilfield and the fourth largest oilfield in the world. It is owned by Zakum Development Company (ZADCO), a joint venture (JV) of ADNOC (60%) which acts as the operator, ExxonMobil (28%) and the Japan Oil Development Company (Jodco-12%), a wholly-owned subsidiary of INPEX.

The production capacity of the field is set to increase to 750,000bpd, following the completion of the UZ750 Project, which is currently underway. The construction works are being implemented in two phases. The total cost of the project is expected to be$10bn and it will be sustainable for 25 years.

The National Petroleum Construction Co (NPCC) and Technip are carrying out the first phase of the project under an AED3bn ($817m) contract. This will add 100,000bpd in production capacity to the Upper Zakum field.

Petrofac Emirates, through its JV with Mubadala Petroleum and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), is conducting the second phase under a $3.7bn contract. The second phase is expected to increase the production capacity by a further 150,000bpd.

In November 2017, partners of the Upper Zakum field announced an agreement to increase production capacity to one million barrels per day by 2024.

Details of the Upper Zakum oil field

The shallow-water Upper Zakum oil field covers an area of 1,200km² and comprises approximately 450 wells extending 7,000ft to 8,000ft below the earth’s surface. The wells are tied to more than 90 existing platforms. Production from the oilfield began in 1982.

Oil retrieved from the field flows through a pipeline network into one of the four main processing facilities for treatment. It is then pumped through the main oil lines, which measure approximately 55km, to Zirku Island for further processing, storage and export.

Details of the UZ750 Project at Upper Zakum

The UZ750 project involves the construction of four artificial islands, which comprise a central complex that will house the processing facilities, as well as the north, south and west satellite platforms.

The first phase of the project involves the development of offshore facilities. It includes the laying of 240km of subsea pipelines, 128km of subsea composite and fibre-optic cables, as well as the installation of30,000t of offshore structures, such as jackets, riser platforms, flare towers and bridges, and approximately 3,000t of islands modules and bridges.

Phase two involves the development of facilities on the four artificial islands, including wellhead controls, manifolds, crude oil process facilities, water injection and gas lift, booster gas compression facilities, oil export pumps, power generation and ancillary utilities, as well as the modification of the existing facilities. As many as 22 production modules comprising a wellhead control and oil processing unit will be constructed in the the second phase.

The project also involves the construction of accommodation facilities for 2,150 people, alongside supporting buildings and permanent utilities such as recreational areas, a mosque and operations and drilling offices.

In October 2015, Petrofac delivered the first two modules for ZADCO’s Upper Zakum UZ750 project.

Development of man-made islands at Upper Zakum

Located north-west of the Abu Dhabi islands, the man-made islands were developed using new technologies, including the extended reach drilling (ERD) technology, which enables wells to be drilled vertically in the initial stages. After this, they can be drilled horizontally to target reservoirs several miles away.

Another innovative technology in use is the maximum reservoir contact (MRC), which reduces the number of new wells that are necessary and unlocks tighter areas in the reservoir.

The four islands, which are oval in shape and measure 2,000ft to 2,600ft in diameter, were constructed from sand and rock. The rocks were transported to the site from quarries in the UAE. The islands were constructed in water depths ranging between 5m to 15m.

“National Petroleum Construction Co and Technip are carrying out the first phase of the project under an AED3bn contract.”

Construction works for the islands involved 20 million cubic metres of dredging and levelling, as well as 20 million cubic metres of ground amelioration, and used seven million tonnes of stones, artificial fabrics and concrete units for the beach protection. The civil works of the four artificial islands were completed in 2015.

The ACCROPODE II technique, with assistance provided by Concrete Layer Innovations (CLI), is being implemented to protect the northern and western islands.

Upper Zakum field development contractors

AMEC has provided project management consultancy (PMC) services for the offshore elements of the project under a $75m contract, while COWI has carried out PMC services for the construction of the islands. Amec Foster Wheeler won an extension to its existing PMC contract in August 2015.

The Wood Group acquired Amec Foster Wheeler in October 2017. In November 2018, the Wood Group received a one-year contract extension to provide PMC services for the UZ750 project from January 2019.

Ramboll conducted the feasibility study for the artificial islands. The National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) is responsible for the construction of the islands.

The Habtoor Leighton Group (HLG) won a contract for the construction of the accommodation and support facilities for the artificial islands in June 2012.

Technip provided conceptual engineering and front-end engineering design for the process units on the islands, including several other facilities on the four islands. Amec Foster Wheeler received the contract to carry out the availability and reliability study for the project.

Total Waste Management Alliance (TWMA) has been contracted to design, commission and operate an advanced solids control and fluid recovery system for the project. It will provide specialist drilling services, including the handling, transfer, storage and treatment of both oil-based and water-based drill cuttings in the course of the project.

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