Kashagan oil field, Kazakhstan
The Kashagan oil field is named after a famous local lyric poet. The oil field lies at the northern end of the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest lake and the source of natural caviar. Kashagan is considered the world’s largest oil discovery since Prudhoe Bay in Alaska in the 1960s.
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This field was discovered in 2000 and is estimated to have commercial reserves of 16 billion barrels of oil. Initial stage development began in 2004, with production forecast to start in later this year. Building up from 75,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a peak in 2021 of 1.5 million bpd, which is slightly more than Kazakhstan's total current production.
Until August 2010, the operators had invested $28bn in developing the field, when the government announced that the phase two development of the field would be delayed until 2018.
Kashagan lies some 80km south of Atyrau in the Northern Caspian Sea and extends over a surface area of approximately 75km by 45km. It poses several technical challenges for operators. In winter, temperatures crash to - 40 degrees, freezing the shallow waters that surround this offshore site. Both men and equipment experience 70mph Siberian winds carrying flying chunks of broken ice. Summer offers no relief from searing heat of over 40 degrees, making it an extreme and challenging environment for personnel engage in exploration and development.
Kashagan’s development is also technically challenging. The oil is located in a high-pressure reservoir located at extreme depths of 4-5km below the lake bed, which presents a significant drilling challenge. The Kashagan project consists of an offshore complex on a man-made D-shaped island, surrounded by breakwaters serviced by shallow-draught ice-breaker boats.
Kashagan is linked by pipeline to an onshore processing facility at Bolashak, which is nearing completion. It’s the size of Amsterdam, using up to 510km of pipelines, almost the distance between New York and Montreal and over 5,000km of electric and instrumentation cables.
NES Global Talent and Kashagan
Finding talent for what has been described by Michael Wallace, Associate Director at NES Global Talent, as the world’s largest industrial project is not without its challenges. Michael leads a team of consultants specialising in resolving the recruitment challenges of clients in the development and operation of all stages of the Kashagan oil field development.
For the Kashagan project, Michael leads teams based in Britain, Italy and Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan, we work with its local partner Bolashak, the country’s leading manpower provider, meeting and balancing the needs of both its clients and candidates.
Michael has described working in Kazakhstan as probably the most interesting stimulating task we have had to solve. It is not only the extremes in climate, that are challenging, but operating in Kazakhstan is very complex as it transforms itself from a post-Soviet into a modern economy.
Kazakhstan is like many new oil producers, it is unlikely to have the domestic talent available to meet all the needs of its rapidly developing energy sectors. Despite the country’s proactive local content policies, it will still depend on expatriate engineering expertise from abroad, provided by strategic partners like NES Global Talent, one of the world’s leading manpower providers.
For the Kashagan project, our clients have been looking for engineers experienced in commissioning, maintenance, training and QA/QC inspection services. Due to the ramping up of industry activity, candidates with expertise in geology and petro physics are in high demand at present.
We are one of the market leaders in recruitment because it has a strong understanding of clients’ needs due to it having built long-term relationships with them. In fact, we have established partnerships with leading energy companies and contractors HR departments rather than the traditional client customer relationships that are traditional in the recruitment sector.
“Having a network of teams based worldwide in every major energy hub is really important for our clients”, says Michael. Our consultants are able to provide in-depth knowledge and understanding of local and global labour market conditions for a specific engineering expertise such as project management, including current candidate expectations on pay and benefit packages.
Our core advantage is our ability to search, find and recruit the best candidates for the job. We do this by establishing and maintaining long-term relationships with candidates throughout the entire life of their careers. "Recruitment is about developing and maintaining social connections", says Michael.
As part of more than 30 years of headhunting experience, we have developed extensive networks, databases and expertise. In addition, we have made great use of social networking tools like LinkedIn to find the best candidates for the job.