Siberian winters of minus 45 degrees and hungry bears are ‘business as usual’ for Farid Sharipov

Farid Sharipov, the Night Drilling Supervisor of the Salym Petroleum Development, enjoys working in the challenging conditions of Western Siberia, even though winter temperatures of minus 45 degrees and hungry bears coming out of hibernation are not unusual.

Graduating from Moscow State Open University as an Oil & Gas Geologist, Farid has more than a decade of experience in the oil fields of Kazakhstan and Russia. For many of those years he was employed by the Eni Group and the North Caspian Operating Company. 

In 2009 Farid started his career as the offshore Well Operations Junior Engineer for Agip KCO and in the next few years he was promoted to Well Site Drilling Engineer/Supervisor of the Kashagan oil field and then to Field Drilling Engineer/Supervisor where he was working with several different well types including HPHT, deviated slim profile wells (S & J shapes) and CHCD wells.

In 2016, Farid became the Drilling & Completion Interface Engineer for the North Caspian Operating Company, and was responsible for Drilling, Completion & Commissioning reports, as well as technical reports to facilitate drilling and completion, particularly for applications of new technologies and new plans. He also focused on performance and improvement, and supported the day-to-day well operations, ensuring that lessons learnt were systematically captured, recorded and incorporated into the future well programme in order to continuously improve the performances and safety of the well operations.

Preparing drills

Farid joined Atlas Professionals in November 2017 and moved to his next exciting career challenge at the Salym Petroleum Development, which is a Joint Venture set up in 1996 to develop the Salym group of oil fields in Western Siberia. Shell Salym Development B.V. and Gazprom Neft are the joint shareholders. The Salym project is located in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, 120 kilometres south west of Surgut and 30 kilometres west of Salym village and includes West Salym, Upper Salym and Vadelyp oil fields. Salym Petroleum Development’s licence area totals 2141 sq km.

Farid is again involved in preparing drilling wells of different designs for production including S & J shapes, horizontal wells with slotted liners, directional wells with a maximum of 92° degrees, sidetracking wells and exploration wells. “I am mostly preparing the wells for production,  checking all the parameters and managing the different contractors. Usually there are around 70 people at the site.

“Although I am used to working in remote locations, Western Siberia is something else,” he emphasizes. A typical journey to work takes him 24 to 28 hours, he laughs. “Last year we had minus 45 degrees in the winter and it is dark most of the time. Working in these conditions is certainly not for everyone. It is a physical challenge but also a mental one.” 

But Farid remains unfazed, adding as an aside that the sub-zero temperature is not the only challenge. Bears are regularly seen near the site as they emerge from months of hibernation in the spring. “They have just woken up and are very hungry! To avoid being ‘dinner’, everyone has to carry an alarm and if a bear is spotted we must immediately return to our accommodation until the bear decides to pass by.”

And even though the location is so remote, logistics are not a problem because Shell and Gazprom have everything firmly established, he adds. “It is very well managed – everything is thought about. For example, when we complete a ‘batch’ of four wells and move on to prepare the next wells, the following ones are in production straight away. If the company says it will take seven days to complete a well – it does! Everyone understands time is money and what is required of us.”

Global opportunities

Farid’s main duties include being responsible for the control and regulation of drilling fluid properties and the identification of the causes of fast changes in the properties of the drilling mud. He advises on the different types of mud and drilling fluids, their properties and treatment facilities, as well as the cementing and drilling technologies.

A vital part of his job is ensuring the safe operation and observance of all HSE standards, technical safety requirements and fire safety regulations. Given this environment, safety is an absolute priority, he stresses. “We want to make sure everyone returns home to their family safely. We have regular stop hours when we discuss safety aspects and if we have a newcomer join our team and there is a toolbox meeting for him, we all attend so everyone is refreshed about the correct procedures. And it is not just operational rules but all aspects of working on the project.”

Farid is also enjoying working for Atlas Professionals. “After nine years in the Kashagan oil fields, Atlas has given me a great opportunity to further develop my career on another fascinating project. Each time you learn from a project and take this experience and the best practice on to the next one. Atlas also has opportunities and interesting projects all over the world, so you never know where my future destination will be!”