EghtesadOnline: A deadly 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck western parts of Iran on Sunday night, but production at Azar Oilfield in Ilam Province has not been affected, said Keyvan Yarahmadi, who oversees the field's development at the Petroleum Engineering and Development Company.
"The earthquake has done no harm to the field's installations and there is no reason for concern, as crude extraction at Azar field is underway as usual," Yarahmadi was quoted as saying by the National Iranian Oil Company's news portal on Monday.
The quake was centered 31 kilometers outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the US Geological Survey. It struck at a depth of 23.2 kilometers, a shallow depth that can have broader damage.
Hundreds were buried under the rubble and thousands were injured. Kermanshah Province bore the brunt of the quake and its aftershocks, while surrounding areas such as Ilam suffered less damage, according to Financial Tribune.
According to the official, Iran has extracted close to 6 million barrels of crude from Azar Oilfield since the field started production about eight months ago.
Pointing to the oilfield’s daily production of 30,000 barrels, Yarahmadi said plans have been devised to boost output to 65,000 bpd in the first phase and 100,000 bpd in the second.
Based on NIOC's report, located in Anaran block near the border with Iraq in the town of Mehran in Ilam, the field holds 2.5 billion barrels of in-place oil but new reservoir studies on the field project the much higher figure of 4 billion barrels.
"Nine wells have so far been drilled in the field and 10 others are also planned to be drilled at a cost of €1.56 billion ($1.8 billion)," the official said.
With an extraction rate of 16%, Azar is one of the joint fields with Iraq, along with Dehloran, West Paydar, Naft-Shahr, Azadegan and Yadavaran.
The Oil Industries Engineering and Construction Company and Russia's Gazprom Neft signed a memorandum of understanding in July in the Russian city of St. Petersburg to assess the potentials of Azar oilfields.
Officials say the field is considered a drillers' nightmare given the sequence of its low- and high-pressure layers, and the large number of tubes for drilling and lining of wells, stressing that hydraulic fracturing was initially a challenge in the field, which was solved with acid fracturing, a popular method for improved oil recovery.
The field's crude oil API, a measure of how heavy or light petroleum liquids are compared to water, stands at 33, which ranks it among medium-grade crudes
Petrochem Plants Unharmed
According to Mohammad Ali Bosaqzadeh, deputy for production control at the National Petrochemical Company, the strong earthquake has damaged neither the petrochemical plants in western provinces nor the West Ethylene Pipeline that runs from Asalouyeh by the Persian Gulf to West Azarbaijan Province in northwest Iran.
"Petrochemical complexes in Ilam, Kermanshah, Mahabad and Kurdestan are up and running," he said, noting that structurally the plants comply with modern engineering standards and there is nothing to worry about in such critical situations.
Bosaqzadeh added that over the past seven months, about 13 million tons of petrochemical and polymer products, worth $6.5 billion, have been exported.