Tiny pipeline cracks jeopardize giant Kashagan oil field

|By:, SA News Editor

Operators of the giant Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan are scrutinizing microscopic cracks in a steel pipeline as they race to understand the cause of dangerous gas leaks that have forced them to halt output indefinitely and could result in hefty repair costs.

A prolonged stoppage could be a drag on the finances of consortium members, including Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) and Eni (E), and could jeopardize Kazakhstan hopes of using the expected Kashagan windfall - the field is projected to yield 1.5M boe/day when it reaches full capacity - to turn it into a major oil exporter.

If an investigation of the leaks shows cracks are affecting all the welds because the wrong alloy was selected during construction, the consortium may need to replace the entire pipeline and perhaps other equipment.

Subscribe for full text news in your inbox