Sanoat Energetika Guruhi (SEG), together with its partner Kontiki Exploration, has discovered the ultra-viscous oil and bitumen field in the Zerafshan depression, Uzbekistan.

The new discovery, dubbed Yangi Uzbekistan, is located in an area between the cities of Samarkand and Navoi and is the largest field in Uzbekistan.

Yangi Uzbekistan is estimated to hold bituminous oil reserves of about 100 million tonnes and is expected to produce a maximum of one million tonnes of bituminous oil per annum by 2025.

The companies intend to invest $2.5bn in the development of the field over the next 12 years and drill 1,500 wells per year to achieve the estimated production.

Sanoat Energetika Guruhi CEO Shokir Faizullaev said: “The discovery of the Yangi Uzbekistan field is part of Sanoat Energetika Guruhi’s strategy to increase oil production to 1.6 million tons by 2030 as part of the execution of the order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan.

“To implement projects of this scale, we will attract the best contractors who can work with similar oil. Today we have been able to increase production from 425 to 500 thousand tons per year.

“The development of the Yangi Uzbekistan field is guaranteed to lead to a significant increase in this figure. Thus, Uzbekistan in the near future will be able to reduce imported crude oil and produce processed products from its own raw materials.”

The drilling of the project’s first exploration well was started in May 2021, followed by appraisal and development wells to a depth of 400m to 750m.

The drilling uncovered layers of gravelstones and sandstones of the Albian, Cenomanian and Turonian ages, all saturated with oil, extra-viscous oil and bitumen.

The high viscosity suggests that the field has the potential to become one of the most high-tech not only in the Republic of Uzbekistan but also in the Central Asian region.

SEG has contracted various oilfield services companies, including McDANIEL, BYIS Manufacturing, O’NEILL Industries, GenOil, and Energy and Engineering, among others.

The companies are currently working to determine the productive thicknesses and delineate bitumen and oil deposits, along with pilot work for the extraction method.

Kontiki Oil Prospecting Company director Sergey Astakhov said: “Not only the largest field has been discovered at shallow depths, but also a new oil-bearing area, where we can find even more liquid oil deeper.

“In addition, in Uzbekistan, there are a number of potentially interesting intermountain and foothill depressions in which it is necessary to search and find hydrocarbons.”