KCA Deutag Drilling, a subsidiary of Abbot Group PLC, has announced the spudding of the latest development well (KE 5) in the huge Kashagan Field, offshore Kazakhstan. This is the first well to be drilled from an artificial island, demonstrating the success of the operators' current thinking on field development. Previous wells were drilled using a modified barge. The Kashagan Field is a giant shallow-water discovery in the northern Caspian with estimated reserves ranging from eight to 50 billion barrels. It is operated by AGIP KCO on behalf of the partners Agip, Exxon Mobil, Shell, British Gas, TotalFinaElf, Phillips and Inpex. Spudding of KE5 formally completes the installation and commissioning of the facility which features KCA Duetag's rig, T-47. The 3000hp T-47 was previously engaged on BP's Wytch Farm Field drilling a large number of wells including several extended reach wells with a horizontal departure up to 10,700m. The rig was substantially upgraded to enable it to drill throughout the winter months in Arctic equivalent conditions. The facilities provided by KCA Deutag include a self-contained accommodation facility that is much more akin to a North Sea or offshore equivalent than that of a 'normal' land rig. Similarly, the whole facility is fitted with full fire and gas detection, PA facilities, etc. as well as a comprehensive waste treatment plant. All ancillary drilling equipment, whether mud processing plant, silos, or 'ice class' (Canadian) Arktos escape vehicles, are housed in heated 'tents'. "Much of the installation was completed during an extreme Kazakhstan winter, with up to 120 staff and contractors onsite. Equipment was transported by barge behind an icebreaker through the ice bound Caspian Sea," explained Operations Director, Ian Lane. "One of the features of the island is its sloping sides, which are designed to push ice upwards to generate ice 'rubble' rather than allowing it to move across the island." T-47 will be engaged in development drilling on Kashagan for a 5-year term. "This was a significant project completed under the most difficult of conditions, demonstrating KCA Deutag's wide range of skills, from engineering design through project management to drilling operations," said Lane. "The project is a tremendous achievement not only for the staff of Agip KCO and ourselves, but also for the many contractors involved in the work."