A mature oilfield with multiple challenges

Since 2010 the ROO has increased production by 40%, an achievement all the more impressive given the immense and multiple challenges it has faced and overcome.

These challenges range from dealing with the declining pressure levels in the reservoirs that drives a base decline of 17%, to the problem of increased water coming up our wells, working with old facilities that date back to the 1960s and 70s, and a physically challenging environment with serious legacy issues. ROO is overcoming all of these difficulties.

A base decline of 17%
As a mature oilfield, Rumaila’s reservoirs are changing, with much of its remaining recoverable oil locked in increasingly complex geological formations. After 60 years of extracting oil, gas and water, the pressure levels in the reservoirs are declining; failure to address this issue would see the field’s production fall around 17% or 200,000 bpd every year. This is because of the natural process of base decline, which is common to all oilfields (although decline rates vary in different reservoirs according to geological factors). Overcoming the base decline and sustaining high oil production involves deploying large-scale engineering solutions, in particular reintroducing pressure into the reservoirs by injecting industrially treated water. Find out more about this on our water page.

As reservoirs adapt and change, so too must Rumaila’s facilities, tools and techniques.

Aged equipment and increased water
Most of Rumaila’s facilities and associated pipework are 40-50 years old. Financial constraints have curtailed ambitious plans for comprehensive field renewal, resulting in the need to continue to maintain these old facilities. Planned water injection improves the production rate, but this means more water is coming up Rumaila’s wells, resulting in facilities now having to separate around 450,000 barrels of water a day from the oil produced. Rumaila has never seen this level of water in its 60-year history. This places even more strain on old facilities, not designed to cope with such volumes of water. Find out more how we are addressing this on our field renewal page.

A demanding environment
In the summer months, temperatures rise over 50 degrees and in the winter flash flooding can make sites inaccessible. Throughout the year, high winds can prevent rigs from drilling while sandstorms can bring operations to a halt.

These are conditions that staff members regularly endure, but these difficulties are also compounded by a legacy of environmental damage as well as war and conflict – with the land strewn with thousands of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Find out more about how Rumaila is working to clean the environment of past legacy issues and UXO on this page.


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