Salym Field Development

Speaker: Harry Brekelmans
Location: Congress Center of RF CCI. Start at 7 p.m.


The Salym project is a 50:50 joint venture between Shell and Evikhon (Sibir Energy subsidiary). It is currently the largest onshore investment by an international company in Russia.

The Salym area is situated in the West Siberian Khanty-Mansisk Okrug in a low-lying swamp area covered by a birch and fir tree forest with meandering rivers. Although the region is within the centre of the Russian oil industry, the area is remote with little infrastructure. The physical environment, remoteness, extreme weather, logistics and communications, poses significant challenges. The 2200m deep reservoirs are stacked Cretaceous sandstones in a relatively flat structure. Permeabilities range from 10-300 mD with a large portion of the greater than 2bln bbl STOIIP in the transition zone.

The investment was sanctioned in September 2003, with the main objective to deliver commercial production by end 2005. Work started in winter 2003. Key challenges included winter access construction and permitting and approvals. The development consisted of 2 separation trains and tankage at a Central Processing Facility, associated gas compression and use in a turbine driven power plant, centralized water injection facilities with injection lines to 20+ wellpads over a 30km wide area, an accommodation/logistic base for 400 staff, an all-season 50 km access road, 150 km of infield roads and overhead power lines, 350km of in-field pipelines, an 88km export pipeline, and a custody transfer oil terminal to the Transneft pipeline system. The first well was spudded in April 04 and first oil was produced in Dec 04, one year ahead of schedule, and introduced to the main facilities in Nov 05, before the year-end deadline, unprecedented for this basin with field developments back to the 1960s.

The fast track execution schedule was achieved by focusing on essentials. The overall success of the project hinges on three factors: integration of Russian and Western practices, strong teamwork, and effective management of HSSE.

Early Western designs proved to be unsuitable in the Russian context, so the project philosophy was re-aligned to Russian norms supplemented by Shell or International standards where improvements were evident. This resulted in the integration of western turbines, process automation, shutdown systems and high-speed, high-pressure pumps within an established Russian design. In addition, four new drilling rigs were used combining the best of Russian and Western practices and technology to deliver world class drilling performance for the first phase of 357 wells. Some 96% of SPDs employees are Russian with over 80% local content in contract spend. In addition to direct benefits to the region, the project has created opportunities for vendors to market Russian technologies to other (international) projects.

An integrated team of highly experienced professional staff facilitated a quick, flexible implementation of the plan. Essential was strong teamwork, a positive approach with refusal to accept failure, a willingness to make necessary changes, an ability to establish trust/respect with local staff, a readiness to make tough decisions with personal responsibility backed by a management environment of trust with freedom to act.

Robust and focused HSE management with clear and concise rules such as strict imposition of in-field speed limits, zero drug and alcohol tolerance, resulted in a good HSE performance considering the significant cultural challenges and high road traffic exposure faced by the project. Managing safety remains a challenge and SPD continues to look for improvements, particularly in the area of road safety. A combination of the best of Shells sustainable development standards with the Russian Federation requirements plus close dialogue with the regional communities resulted in a social and economic program publicly recognised amongst the best in Russia.

Production has now reached the 149,000 bbl/d mark, which is ahead of current Business Plan.

Download video presentation: russian version (51 Mb) or english version (49 Mb).


Harry graduated from Delft Technical University in 1990 with a degree in Petroleum Engineering. He has been with Shell for 17 years, in a variety roles, first in E&P research, followed by assignments in Egypt and the UK in a variety of roles in Geosciences, Subsurface Operations, Development Planning and Coordination and Organisational Change Management.
In 2003 he joined Shell Internal Audit as the Internal Audit Manager for EP Europe, then in August 2005 became EP & GP Global Audit Manager and during the latter 6 months in Internal Audit served as the interim Chief Internal Auditor for Royal Dutch Shell.
In 2007, Harry moved with his wife Petra, son Jonas and daughter Dagmar to Moscow, where he joined Salym Petroleum Development (SPD). SPD is a joint venture between Shell and Sibir Energy, responsible for developing and operating the Salym fields in Western Siberia. The fields came on stream in Q4 2005 and is in the midst of a rapid production build-up, with peak production anticipated around 2010. Key challenge at present therefore is to transition the venture safely from construction focused to operationally excellent.
Harry is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.


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Congress Center of RF CCI. Start at 7 p.m.
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