On the Way to the Arctic Shelf

Development of the Arctic shelf is of strategic importance for Russia. SevMorNefteGaz Company is licensed for development of the Prirazlomnoye oil field in the Pechora Sea and the Shtokman gas-condensate field in the Barents Sea. The aggregate explored reserves of these fields amount to 3.2 trillion m3 of gas, 31 million tons of gas condensate and 250 million tons of oil.

In recent years SevMorNefteGaz Company continued working on the Prirazlomnoye oil field construction. Nearly 950 mln dollars have been invested in the project since the beginning of the investment activities.

Creation of offshore ice-resistant fixed platforms (OIFP) is a new administrative and engineering problem for the Russian science and industry.

Initially, the stake was placed on applying the scientific potential and production capacities of the Russian enterprises including such leaders of the Russian shipbuilding industry as SevMash, Zvyozdochka, Admiralty Shipyards, Vyborg Shipbuilding Yard, as well as CDB ME Rubin, Acad. A.N. Krylov Central Research Institute, CRI SM Prometey, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

In some cases the company cooperates with foreign partners in order to purchase competitive products of the required range and quality. Over 40 companies from 15 countries manufacture equipment for Prirazlomnoye OIFP. Major deliveries are made by Norway, England, Italy, the USA, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. The company leans heavily on the experience from such companies as Halliburton, Kellogg Brown & Root, Statoil, Hydro, Aker, Fortum.

Today the work on constructing OIFP entered its final stage. Russian metallurgical plants supplied over 75 thousand tons of metal for erection of the platform (caisson) substructure. Special construction site technical support systems were established and a floating crane with maximum 400 tons capacity was purchased in order to complete the caisson and renovate the platform superstructure near SevMach PA berth. At present the company finishes constructing and joining four superblocks, i.e. forming the entire caisson – the basic load-bearing part of the platform. For the first time, SevMach PA specialists designed and implemented a technology for forming afloat big metal structures with over 70 thousand tons weight. Formation of the caisson is carried out using specially fabricated devices for sealing the joints, and performing underwater welding on the enterprise offshore area. The work is humming also in SevMash workshops: they continued formation of the intermediate deck structures. For this purpose the enterprise specialists within a short-term period developed and implemented a technology for fabrication of metal structures from cold resistant steel. The intermediate deck will be installed on the caisson roof. Hutton TLP platform superstructure purchased in Norway is renovated and repaired at the same place - SevMach PA. The company carries out equipment dismantling, defect survey, repair and certification.

In July-August 2006 the company is planning to perform a unique operation of rolling the platform superstructure on the substructure. And in a year, in July-September 2007 there will be operations of the same complexity – concreting of the caisson and towing of OIFP with nearly 250 thousand tons weight to the Prirazlomnoye field, at the installation area. Afterwards the platform will be commissioned, and starting from 2008 it is planned to launch commercial production and refining of the arctic shelf oil. Attainment of the maximum production level – 6.5 mln tons of oil per ann. – is planned on the seventh year of the Prirazlomnoye field development.

The entire infrastructure being built for construction of the Prirazlomnoye oil field will be the basis for further development of hydrocarbon resources in the Barents and Kara Seas.

The second prospective project being realized by SevMorNefteGaz JSC is the Shtokman gas-condensate field discovered in 1988. Before 1995 it had six wells drilled, and the works on the seventh well will be completed this year. Pre-project works are underway; the development technology is specified: either using offshore platforms or without them, i.e. with underwater construction. If the second method is selected, the technology applied during development of the Ormen Lange field in Norway will be taken as a basis. It consists in gas supply from the well through the pipeline and onshore gas liquefaction. GiproSpetsGaz JSC and VNIIGAZ specialists study the possibility of implementing this technology, and together with Norwegian companies carry out R&D works. AARI and GazFlot scientists perform pre-research work as well.

MorNefteGazProject JSC started working out a justification of investments in the development project for the Shtokman field, giant by its reserves. Its area is 1400 sq. km; sea depth in the bedding area is 300-380 m. Such sea depth and risks of ice loads on offshore structures imposed a necessity to create a new type of the extracting platform. The field is nearly 600 km off the shore, which is a major problem for its development. For the first time in the world practice it will be required to run underwater gas main pipelines with nearly 600 km length in order to deliver gas from such remote field. The overall volume of investments in field development will amount to approximately 20 bln dollars, including 11 bln – in the offshore extracting complex.

However, despite big technical difficulties and huge expenses, field development attractiveness is great: it is capable of ensuring sustained gas production within 50 years; moreover, 91% of reserves are concentrated in two strata. The extracted raw materials will be transported to the Kola Peninsula, where it is planned to construct a gas liquefaction plant with an offshore terminal.

Liquefied natural gas will be exported by tankers, mostly to the US.

Partially, extracted raw materials delivered onshore through the underwater pipeline can be exported to Europe through the North European Gas Pipeline system (NEGP). To enter this system it is planned to construct a special pipeline. The strategy of gas deliveries from the Shtokman field to NEGP system will be worked out and determined by Gazprom.

Long-term plans of SevMorNefteGaz JSC are not confined to the Prirazlomnoye and Shtokman fields only. It is planned to obtain licenses for development of other prospective oil-and-gas-bearing structures on the Arctic shelf, primarily, those that are adjacent to the area of the Prirazlomnoye oil field. Herewith, it is planned to bring total annual levels of oil production to 12 mln tons, gas production – to 70 bln m3.

Go to Index of # 1(15) 2006


# 1(15), 2006
Ocean and shelf exploration