S. Nagesh Kumar
RIL conducts trial production of natural gas and oil and its offshore platform is ready to begin commercial production
HYDERABAD: Harsh weather conditions in the cyclone-prone Bay of Bengal allow sub-sea operations for hydrocarbon production for just four months in any year. Any project has to compress time to achieve targets and Reliance Industries did exactly that to bring natural gas and crude from the ocean depths to the surface from its KG-D6 block.
After six years of sustained hard work on this block, which lies in the Krishna-Godavari basin off the Kakinada coast, RIL has conducted trial production of natural gas and oil. Its offshore platform is now ready to begin commercial production, the 1,370-km long pipeline to Bharuch in Gujarat laid and only the onshore processing terminal at Gadimoga is receiving what can be called the final coat of paint.
“Only safety checks, pre-commissioning and commissioning operations remain to be done,” P. M. S. Prasad, President & CEO- Petroleum, RIL, told journalists on Thursday.
Once these are over, KG D6 will become the fastest greenfield deepwater oil development projects in the world, Reliance claims. It was in 2002 that it struck gas and since then, engineers had to battle the elements to meet deadlines. The swells in the Bay rise up to three metres, the currents reach speeds of up to 4 knots while the depth of water ranges from 400 metres to 2,700 metres. In contrast, the Arabian Sea, host to Bombay High, offers a window of over eight months.
At one point, 89 vessels were working in the sea. They brought nearly 1.10 lakh tonnes of state-of-art equipment for sub-sea operations alone. Hidden away more than one km deep is an amazing array of manifolds (named so because of their different parts, features and functions).
These have two to five wells tied to them and gas flows from them to the manifolds and then to the control raiser platform.
This complex maze of sub-sea construction was installed by the Robotic Remote Operated vehicles as divers cannot survive beyond a depth of 100 metres.
The entire facility looks as if it were straight out of a science fiction novel, an RIL executive says.
As for crude oil production, it is handled by the highly sophisticated floating production storage offloading vessel (FPSO) the multi-function ship.
Originally an oil tanker, it was converted into a multi-function vessel in Singapore and named Dhirubhai-I for production of up to 60,000 barrels of oil.
Blast proof building
This complex operation of production as well as the processing of gas at the vast facility at Gadimoga is monitored in a master control room. Resembling the control room of a space agency, it has a 16 m X 4 m television screen inside a blast proof building from where 64 images of the Gadimoga facility as well as the ships can be monitored round-the clock.
Once all the valves at Gadimoga are opened, oil and gas produced from KG D6 will be equivalent to 40 per cent of India’s indigenous production.