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October 12, 2012

New application of existing techniques in old fields helps Russia increase oil production

Graph of Russian crude oil production from 1992 through 2011, as explained in article text, with embedded image of Russian oil fields.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics and International Energy Agency.

Russia was the world's largest producer of crude oil in 2011. As Russia's use of multistage hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has increased, preliminary Russian crude oil production figures indicate that production has risen in 2012.

West Siberia, Russia's main producing region, accounts for around 6.5 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of liquids production, nearly two-thirds of Russia's total production. While this region is mature, new applications of existing technologies have boosted recovery rates at oil fields that had stopped growing or begun declining.

TNK-BP has announced that it is the first company in Russia to apply a unique improved multistage fracturing technology to develop reserves in mature oilfields in West Siberia. A pilot at the Samotlor oil field has tested a six-stage hydraulic fracturing technology, which resulted in reduced well completion times and increased reservoir productivity. TNK-BP now plans to expand the pilot project to 25 more wells in the Samotlor field by the end of 2012, and, starting in 2013, the company plans to use the technology to fracture about 50 horizontal wells each year across its subsidiaries in Western Siberia.

Production from Samotlor, which accounts for about one-quarter of TNK-BP's output, fell 7% in 2011. The drop was low, however, compared to previous years, indicating that the field's future annual declines may be less severe. Continued use of multistage hydraulic fracturing may result in a decline rate of only 1% by 2016.

In addition to TNK-BP, LUKoil is fighting declining crude oil production in the region using multistage hydraulic fracturing at its Tevlinsko-Russkinskoye, Uryevskoye, Vat-Yeganskoye, and Pokachevskoye fields in Western Siberia. According to LUKoil, use of this technique led to a halt in field declines, although the use of the technology may be limited because of its high cost.

LUKoil and TNK-BP were the second- and third-largest producers of oil in Russia in 2010 at approximately 1.8 and 1.4 million bbl/d, respectively.

For more information on energy trends in Russia, see EIA's updated Country Analysis Brief.