Economist's Corner

Be Ready, Cost-Effective for Project Operations in Complex Environments

Francesco Verre, Eni

Being ready to operate is one of the most critical steps in the development of an oil field. For complex projects characterized by technical risks and challenges, a structured approach is mandatory to ensure operational excellence and readiness.

This study shows the methodology adopted by Agip KCO to achieve operational readiness for the Kashagan Field development project by means of a management system called Operations Readiness and Assurance (ORA). The ORA process assures that the field production facilities are designed, built, commissioned, and started up with account taken for lifecycle operations requirements. This will lead to a safe, cost-effective, and quick ramp up to target production levels.

This methodology has been successfully applied at the Kashagan field. Kashagan is an extremely complex development in terms of technical issues that involve high-pressure, sour-hydrocarbon reservoir development in a hostile environment. The management system applied through this methodology has enabled the operations team to be integrated fully in the field development, so that the team serves as a key decision maker in facilities operability and risk mitigation.


Operations input by means of the ORA plan is fundamental from the very first phase of a project through the handover and the first period of production. The role and contributions of operations change during the different phases of the project, and thus the key deliverables that require preparation. Fig. 1 provides a high-level description of the role of operations—indicated as readiness objectives—in different project phases.

Fig. 1—Roles of project and operations readiness in different project phases.

Methodology: ORA Process Structure

The ORA process built within Agip KCO is guided by the following principles:

Fig. 2—Operations readiness and assurance hierarchy of items.

Agip KCO has organized the ORA items in a structured hierarchy (Fig. 2), consisting of

The working tool generated from the ORA structure by means of the processes is an integrated-reference comprehensive schedule. The ORA schedule provides a complete overview of the activities timeline and the resource demand profile, and hence enables operations to optimize resource allocation/utilization and identify delays and responsibilities.

Methodology: ORA Governance

The ORA governance is aimed at providing the key decision makers within the operations department with a structured approach for ensuring that the ORA plan is executed quickly and efficiently. This will guarantee an internal alignment within the department and an adequate engagement from external stakeholders (e.g., external Agip KCO departments, authorities, coventure partners).

The following responsibilities are assigned:

For each level of the ORA structure, the decision makers will have the following tasks:

Methodology: ORA Progress Monitoring System

The progress monitoring system encompasses continuous control of ORA activities progress by means of a structured set of reports (at different levels of the hierarchy) that feed a control-action loop. For each type of report, Fig. 3 provides details of the target person and the purpose.

Fig. 3—ORA progress reports.


The application of this innovative management system has enabled operations to achieve the following.

Francesco Verre is Field Manager for Eni in Tunisia. He has previously worked for Agip KCO in London and Kazakhstan and for Eni in Nigeria.