The UAE’s state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) could extend its plan to use artificial islands as offshore drilling platforms at its Upper Zakum oil field to all its other marine oil and gas production projects, according to a senior source at an Adnoc subsidiary.

Speaking on the sidelines of the MEED Oil & Gas EPC 2009 conference in Abu Dhabi on 20 October, Salah al-Bufalah, major projects manager at Zakum Development Company (Zadco), said the scheme could be extended to fields including Nasr, Umm al-Lulu, and Saath al-Ras Boot, also known as Sarb.

Al-Bufalah said Adnoc was hoping to persuade the state-owned offshore oil and gas operator Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (Adma-Opco) to use artificial islands to develop the three previously untapped offshore oil reservoirs over the next decade.

“Adnoc has suggested to Adma-Opco that it looks at this option for Sarb and Umm al-Lulu,” said Al-Bufalah. “The cost savings are very large. An offshore rig costs almost double that of an onshore one.”

Zadco plans to build four islands at its Upper Zakum oil field in the Gulf. The islands will also house utilities and infrastructure.

Capacity at the Upper Zakum field is currently 500,000 barrels a day (b/d), but Zadco is seeking to increase this to 750,000 b/d by 2015.

The Adnoc subsidiary had previously considered building traditional offshore platforms, but it says it will cut 20-30 per cent from the cost of the project by using islands rather than rigs.