Adnoc to build offshore oil drilling islands

If Adnoc has its way, the UAE's next crop of artificial islands will support drilling rigs instead of beachfront mansions.

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If Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) has its way, the UAE's next crop of artificial islands will support drilling rigs instead of beachfront mansions. The company is planning to build seven islands about 80 kilometres off Abu Dhabi's coast as bases to drill up to 400 new wells for a project to boost production capacity from its Zakum offshore oilfield by 50 per cent to 750,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Zakum Development Company (Zadco), an Adnoc operating unit, is in the process of selecting a developer for the islands, said Gamal Ismail Hassan, a senior Zadco drilling engineer. The company plans to award the construction contract by the end of this year, and to start drilling from the islands in 2011, he said. "We are looking to build artificial islands instead of having a large number of drilling platforms and a huge network of connecting pipelines that would require a lot of steel," he told a drilling conference in Abu Dhabi.

Together, Zadco and another Adnoc subsidiary, Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (Adma), plan to add 550,000 bpd of new offshore oil production capacity over the next few years, the conference heard. That would be represent about 70 per cent of the total new capacity that Adnoc plans to add as it moves ahead with projects to raise Abu Dhabi's crude-pumping capability to 3.5 million bpd by 2018. tcarlisle@thenational.ae