TAKING AIM

Qatar 2020 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

Still a young firm, one of NOC's biggest priorities is ensuring it continues to be a major contributor to Qatar's economy in terms of industrial development and value generation.

Frederic Paux
BIOGRAPHY

CEO of NOC since December 2019, Frederic Paux has been working in Qatar for more than three years. Initially leading the transition of the Al Shaheen oil field to the newly created North Oil Company, he also worked with Qatar Petroleum to integrate the Idd El Shargi field. He has more than 32 years' experience in the oil and gas industry with Total. His career took him from geosciences to development engineering and project execution, particularly in the challenging deep-water domain. He has spent half of his career overseas, chiefly in West Africa and the Middle East. He holds an MSc from the Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielle de la Ville de Paris, and a petroleum engineering degree from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure du Pétrole et des Moteurs (IFP).

What is the role of NOC in Qatar's upstream sector?
NOC has been entrusted by the state of Qatar with the operation and further development of Al Shaheen, the largest offshore oil field in the country and among the largest worldwide. NOC started its operations in July 2017, and the license is valid through 2042. The production potential is in the order of 300,000bpd, and continuous investment will be required over the coming years to sustain that level.

What have been your main milestones thus far?
The long-term stability of low-cost production is fundamental to NOC's success. Since taking over in the summer of 2017, NOC, with the support of its shareholders, has been able to put in place a major investment program focusing on several priorities: first, quickly restart drilling activities from existing platforms to manage the well stock and provide production potential. Second, design and initiate the fabrication of new well-head platforms. Third, jackets were installed in 2019 whose pre-drilling will start in early 2020. Fourth, take control of the integrity of the asset by delivering an extensive program of maintenance and inspection. Fifth, think long term by preparing the development of new areas and the addition of new processing facilities. And sixth, ensure that NOC continues to be a major contributor to Qatar's economy in terms of industrial development and value generation.

Are you using new technologies such as enhanced oil recovery (EOR)?
We are indeed investing in EOR programs, but also in 4D seismic and in digital technologies, to mention but a few. On the EOR side, we are industrializing a Water-Alternate-Gas (WAG) pilot initiated by the previous operator. We have also kicked off a pilot of surfactant injections to reduce the amount of residual oil left behind after the water injection. We are also conducting lab studies on several other technologies in addition to completing a vast 3D seismic survey covering 1000sqkm that will be the baseline for future 4D monitors, allowing us to the visualize the displacement of fluids and the variation of pressure within the reservoir. We also have a digital roadmap that is already providing results, such as the "digital asset," a system of 3D models of all the Al Shaheen facilities interconnected with smart documentation tools used to optimize maintenance of the existing facilities and design new developments and integrate them into existing facilities.

What type of oil do you have in Al Shaheen?
It is high-quality oil, though it varies across the field. The field is so vast that the API gravity ranges from 18, a rather heavy crude, to 35, an indicator of much better-quality, depending on where one is in the field and which reservoir you are looking at. With its large resource base, Al Shaheen has the potential to provide long-term supply stability for decades to come. And the quality of our crude makes it less technically challenging to process than others in the region.

How are you implementing the Tawteen project?
Our commitment to Tawteen is total, which is why we committed to developing 10 investor opportunities in a variety of domains, from mud engineering to drilling tools and manufacturing steel flanges. Come 2020, NOC will be evaluating tenders based on In-Country-Value (ICV) contributions to ensure that Tawteen's aim of increasing ICV from 15% to 40% is fulfilled.

What practical steps will be implemented in 2020?
There will be a fifth drilling rig coming to Al Shaheen sometime in 2020. We will be extremely busy offshore in 2020, installing three topsides on the jackets we installed in 2019 and laying two intra field pipelines. We will also start the fabrication of two additional well-head platforms, which should be delivered and put into production at the beginning of 2022.