By Bertrand Bacaud, published on June 12th, 2018, modified on July 19th, 2018
I had spent more than three years in my position, in charge of all technical parts of Total activity in Qatar: mostly non-operated assets such as Qatargas or Dolphin Energy, but also providing technical assistance to Qatar Petroleum, following the activity of Refining and Chemicals and of the Research Center. I was also facilitating the business development activity of Renewables. So, I thought I had it “under control”… until one day Dolphin Energy management announced to its shareholders (Total, Oxy and Mubadala), that they were going to drill six new wells!
This came to a surprise to everybody: we were in 2012, and reservoir engineers did not see the need for additional wells before 2028! After some investigation, we understood that the move came from Qatar Petroleum, representing the State of Qatar, and the only entity with a comprehensive understanding of the North Field. They had also started pushing new wells into RasGas and Qatargas assets. It was therefore very unlikely that Dolphin could get away without at least 2 to 4 wells. The main risk was that RasGas (i.e. ExxonMobil, its only IOC shareholder at that time) would drill the wells for Dolphin. That would represented a major blow to Total influence on the North Field…
Total management decided then to take the lead on the topic. As Dolphin is a cross-border asset, two Managing Directors came to my office: Stephane Michel (Qatar) and Jean-Luc Guiziou (UAE) asking me if I would accept to take the lead to build the project. I felt obviously honoured that they would think of me for the job. I also really appreciated them being considerate about asking sincerely (it was not a dialectic question to instruct me to do it!). This sign of trust gave me all the energy I needed to build the RMOP (Reservoir Management Optimization Project). I hear people complaining about this acronym but the truth is at that time, we did not know exactly what the objective of the project was! So we tried to make it very vague… With Benoit Loiseau and Lionel Albert, we developed a kind of schizophrenic mind-set while preparing the project. Total E&P Qatar would be the drilling execution provider of Dolphin (i.e. a supplier), who would seek guidance and approval of its strategic choices to its shareholder Total E&P UAE… Not to mention the role of Total secondees in Dolphin: would they be talking to a contractor or a shareholder, who in the end would be their actual employer?
Finally, the most rewarding in this experience was the ability of all players to understand what was going on and follow the path: not only Total(s), but also Oxy (did I mention that their drilling managers, in Qatar and UAE, were former Total employees?). Most importantly, the head of Qatar Petroleum, Dr. Naji Saad, really appreciated the project and supported it until today. As a result, Total drilled the first horizontal wells in the North Field, with extremely positive results!