Development of Natural Bitumen Fields


The Republic of Tatarstan possesses significant reserves of heavy and extra viscous bituminous oils (over 1.4 billion tonnes). About 450 deposits have been identified with majority of them confined to the depth of 50-250 m.

Since 2006, PJSC TATNEFT has initiated a pilot project at Ashalchinskoye field to test a modified heat stimulation technology through dual wellhead horizontal wells. (Patent of the Russian Federation No. 2287677). There are three pairs of dual wellbore wells at the site with a horizontal section length from 200 to 400 meters.

According to the Company's plans to develop extra-viscous oil fields, pilot works were carried out in the Sheshminsky horizon deposits of Ashalchinskoye heavy oil field.

Location of Horizontal Day Drift Wells

A method had been developed to control the process of steam assisted gravity stimulation using dual wellhead horizontal wells, providing for creation of a steam chamber and uniform heating of the interwell area, preventing steam breakthrough into producing wells from steam injectors and maximizing oil production at an optimal steam-oil ratio (RF patent №2340768). The site includes three pairs of dual head wells with a horizontal section of 200 to 400 m long.

Implementation of the technology demonstrated the works prospectivity: horizontal wells produce up to 20 tonnes per day (with an average production rate of conventional oil wells amounting to 4 tonnes per day), which is 8 to 10-fold higher than in case of vertical wells.

In 2015, the Company continued implementation of one of the most strategically important activities: the project of extra-viscous oil (EVO) development at Ashalchinskoye field: the production volume amounted to 376.4 thousand tonnes with the production growth compared to the previous year accounting for about 60%. Upon the whole, starting with the beginning of the pilot development operations the total production volume of EVO amounted to 930 thousand tonnes at the end of 2015. The plans for 2016 envisage the EVO production in the amount of at least 531 thousand tonnes.

Relevant Research in the Area High-Viscosity Oil (HVO) Production

One of the priorities in the area of the PJSC TATNEFT’s prospective developments is refers to the issues related to the extraction, transportation, and processing of high viscosity oil (HVO). In these areas, the Company is a leader not only in Russia, but also in the world. The share of so-called "unconventional reserves" is growing every year, and in the coming decades they will account for more than 40% of the total oil produced in the world.

Engineering developments in the production of such hydrocarbons are not fundamental from the physics and chemistry point of view, but at the same time they are extremely high-tech, they require the use of the entire modern arsenal of scientific methods of physics, chemistry, geology and mathematics, as well as the establishment and stable work of large interdisciplinary teams and laboratories involving a large number of talented young scientists.

As of today, the most relevant challenges for the Company in the HVO production area are as follows:

  • Development of catalysts for the in-situ oil upgrading in the event of thermal treatment.
  • Development of a scientific basis for three-dimensional geochemical models of oil and gas deposits for the integrated design of the development and increasing the oil recovery rate.
  • Development of a scientific basis for three-dimensional geochemical models of oil and gas deposits for the integrated design of the development and increasing the oil recovery rate.
  • Development and application of algorithms and technologies of artificial intelligence in assessing oil-bearing areas and analyzing the effectiveness of the hydrocarbon deposits development.

Oil source sediments: their occurrence, oil saturation (content), evaluation of reserves and development prospects with application of traditional and new technologies.

Contact details of the Assistant to Head of HVO Development Department:

Marat Rasimovich Lyabipov
email address:
Tel: 8 (8553) 317-860