TOP 5 PROJECTS
Tamar a triumph for both Noble and Israel
Longest tieback heralds a wave of Mediterranean natural gas projects
The stakes are high with any major offshore project. But few have been as freighted with signifcance, even urgency, as Noble Energy’s Tamar development offshore Israel, which began production in April 2013. At the time of discovery, in 2009, Israel was importing most of its gas, the bulk of it from
Egypt; Israel’s Mari-B feld, which furnished around 40% of Israel’s
gas usage, was rapidly depleting. The wave of unrest and revolutions that began in 2010 and swept through the Arab world, including Egypt, heightened the vulnerability of Israel’s energy supplies to
A series of Levant basin discoveries in recent years, starting with
Tamar- 1 in 2009, have dramatically altered that picture, and Israel is
now poised to become an exporter of natural gas. Tamar, which Noble
operates with 36% interest, is estimated to hold around 10 tcf of gas;
Noble’s nearby Leviathan discovery could hold as much as 18 tcf.
“The eastern Mediterranean has been a big success story,” Noble
president and COO David Stover remarked at an analyst meeting in
Noble and its partners brought the project onstream just 2. 5 years after sanction, at a cost of about $3.25 billion. The initial phase consists of
fve subsea wells in a hub-and-spoke arrangement in an average water
depth of 5,500 ft ( 1,676 m). The wells are tied back to a platform in 800
ft (244 m) of water via a pair of 16-in. fowlines. Aker Solutions supplied
up to 330 km (205 mi) of subsea umbilicals, along with subsea control
equipment and a monoethylene glycol (MEG) reclamation unit for the
project. The deck and topsides, designed by Wood Group’s Alliance Engineering and installed in December 2012, are capable of processing
up to 1. 2 bcf/d of natural gas, with peak production estimated to be
around 1 bcf/d. The jacket and 11,000-ton topsides were fabricated at
the Kiewit Offshore Services yard in Ingleside, Texas.
Allseas conducted pipeline installation using the Solitaire,
Auda-cia, and Calamity Jane vessels. EMAS AMC was selected to install
the umbilicals and related subsea equipment. At 150 km (93 mi)
from the wells to the Tamar platform, Tamar is one of the longest
subsea tiebacks in the world, if not the longest.
Noble announced the Tamar discovery in the Matan license in
January 2009. The Tamar- 1 well was drilled to a total depth of 16,076
ft ( 4,900 m), identifying more than 460 ft (140 m) of net pay in three
reservoirs -- a “greater than anticipated” fnd, the company said at the
time. “Tamar represents our frst exploratory well offshore Israel in
more than fve years, and we are extremely excited by the results,”
said Charles Davidson, Noble Energy’s chairman and CEO. “This is
one of the most signifcant prospects that we have ever tested and
appears to be the largest discovery in the company’s history” – a milestone that would soon be eclipsed by the Leviathan discovery.
Further drilling in the area with the Atwood Hunter semisubmersible
increased the feld’s estimated reserves and led to the project’s sanction in September 2010. Among the contracts issued was an installation
agreement with Delmar Systems for the fve subsea trees using the
company’s Heave Compensated Landing System. Transocean’s Sedco
Express semisub was used during the subsea construction phase.
The Tamar platform was installed near the Mari-B platform and
tied into an existing 30-in. export pipeline that carries gas to the
onshore Ashdod receiving terminal. The Tamar project was designed to capitalize on the proximity to the depleted Mari-B reservoir, which could be used to store gas. An upgrade to the Ashdod
facility will add compression; further optimization will increase peak
capacity to 1. 5 bcf/d. In an October 2013 statement, Noble said the
compression project was about 30% complete and that drilling was
under way at the Tamar SW exploration prospect.
Noble’s partners in the Tamar development are Isramco Negev 2
( 28.75%), Delek Drilling ( 15.625%), Avner Oil Exploration ( 15.625%),
and Dor Gas Exploration (4%).
The Tamar discovery was followed in 2009 by Dalit, where Noble
has put resource estimates at 0.5 tcf. The Leviathan discovery in late
2010 was the largest deepwater gas discovery of the decade. Further discoveries at Dolphin (2011), Tanin (2012), and Karish (2013)
added more than 1. 8 tcf to the Levant basin’s estimated resources.
Last November, Delek Group announced that Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering had been enlisted to carry out front-end
engineering and design on a foating LNG system that would serve
as a 3. 4 MMtpa-capacity export terminal for Tamar, although Noble
now says that is unlikely.
In August, the Israeli government passed legislation that will allow
the country to offer up to 40% of its gas production for export. At press
time, negotiations were still under way that would grant Woodside
Petroleum a 30% stake in Leviathan. The Australian operator is considering an FLNG development scheme at its Browse project offshore
Western Australia, and would bring some expertise should the partners opt for a foating technology solution in the Eastern Mediterranean, which could hold as much as 40 tcf of recoverable gas reserves,
according to the US Energy Information Administration.
In the meantime, the Tamar feld has been producing at “nearly
100% uptime,” Noble said six months after startup. “We couldn’t be
more pleased with operations at Tamar and how the feld continues
to perform,” Davidson said. •
Senior Technical Editor
Topsides were installed on the Tamar platform in December 2012. Tamar,
possibly the world’s longest subsea tieback, marked first production the
following April. (Photo courtesy Noble Energy)