The ACE project is the next stage of development of the giant Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) field in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea. It is a $6 billion development project which includes a new offshore platform and facilities designed to process up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day. The project is expected to produce up to 300 million barrels over its lifetime.
The project was sanctioned in April 2019. The sanction of ACE was the first major investment decision by the ACG partnership following the extension of the ACG Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) to 2049 was agreed in 2017. Around $42 billion has been invested in the development of the ACG area since the original PSA signed in 1994.
The ACE project is centred on a new 48-slot production, drilling and quarters platform located mid-way between the existing Central Azeri and East Azeri platforms in a water depth of approximately 140 metres. The project also includes new infield pipelines to transfer oil and gas from the ACE platform to the existing ACG Phase 2 oil and gas export pipelines for transportation to the onshore Sangachal terminal.
In addition, there is a water injection pipeline installed between the East Azeri and ACE platforms to supply injection water from the Central Azeri compression and water injection platform to the ACE facilities.
The ACE platform is designed to use technology innovations and automated operation systems that will be controlled remotely from an onshore control room at the Sangachal terminal. It will be the first remotely operated offshore platform in the Caspian. Currently, the remote control scope at the Sangachal terminal is 100% complete with the control room already operational allowing testing to take place.
Construction activities for the project commenced in late 2019 and have taken place in-country utilizing local resources. At peak, over 8,500 people were involved in overall construction activities in Azerbaijan.
ACE platform jacket
The ACE platform jacket weighs 16,000 tonnes and stands 153 metres high. It contains three risers - one water injection, one oil export and one gas export.
The construction of the jacket took three years and was completed safely (3 million workhours delivered without a single day-off from work case) late last year. H.E. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, visited the Heydar Aliyev Deepwater Jackets factory (BDJF) yard on 13 December 2022 officially launching the ready jacket before it sailed away for offshore installation.
During the first half of the year, the Azeri Central East (ACE) platform jacket sailed away from the Heydar Aliyev Baku Deepwater Jackets Factory, where it was built, to its permanent location at the ACG field and was installed in a water depth of 137 metres. The jacket was fully commissioned and tested onshore prior to its sail away on 16 March.
Most of the key commissioning activities planned to be performed onshore were successfully completed during the first half of the year. These mainly included the successful completion of the rig access period, the integrated assurance test and the blowdown safety testing. For the first time the blowdown safety testing was performed onshore using nitrogen. This eliminated the need for testing the system on hydrocarbons during the offshore start-up.
Following these completions, the topsides unit was safely jacked-up and lowered onto the load-out frame for skidding onto the transportation barge.
The ACE platform jacket was fully constructed in country in BDJF, using local construction infrastructure and facilities. It was built by BOS Shelf and involved over 2,000 people including sub-contractors and specialist vendors. The majority of the workforce were Azerbaijani citizens.
ACE platform topsides unit
ACE topsides unit has a design weight of 19,600 tonnes containing oil and gas processing facilities, an integrated drilling rig, a gas compressor and living quarters.
The topsides unit has been constructed in the Bayil fabrication yard by Azfen.
On 4 April, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev visited the topsides fabrication yard and toured the almost completed topsides unit before it had sailed away to its permanent location.
On 30 May, the transportation barge STB-1 arrived at the Bibi-Heybat yard and preparations for load out activities commenced. On 2 July, the topside unit was loaded out onto the STB-1 barge and is now ready to sail away to the ACG field in early August for offshore installation onto the jacket.
On 7 August, the Azeri Central East (ACE) platform topsides unit sailed away from the Bayil fabrication yard where it was built. Prior to its sail away the topsides unit was mostly commissioned and operationally tested onshore to minimise activities required for offshore installation and start-up.
The topsides transportation, float-over and installation activities were carefully planned and took around four days to complete. The unit has been installed on top of the ACE platform jacket which had been at its offshore location since March installed in a water depth of 137 metres.
At peak, the topsides construction activities involved up to 4,400 workers and over 90% of them were Azerbaijani nationals.
The drilling of the first platform well will commence allowing first ACE production to be delivered early 2024.
ACE subsea pipelines
ACE has gas, oil and water injection pipelines and all of them are now installed on the seabed. ACE pipelines range between 6 and 12 kilometres and tie into the existing ACG pipelines.
The subsea oil pipeline isolation tool was launched and the works to isolate the pipeline topsides were also completed in the first half of 2023. The diving support vessel completed the tie-in of the existing 30” spool, while the Citadel vessel finalized the isolation tool reversal activity.
Offshore commissioning works for the Central Azeri platform telecom modifications for ACE were also finalized in the first half of the year.