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Home / Issue Archive / 2010 / October #10 / Russia Updates National Standards and Picks Up Pace at ISO

№ 10 (October 2010)

Russia Updates National Standards and Picks Up Pace at ISO

   With the advent of the market economy, the Russian oil and gas industry community acquired the right not only to select the equipment from any available worldwide, but also to co-operate with foreign equipment vendors and technology developers.

By Elena Zhuk

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   To derive the maximum benefit of mutual relations with foreign partners through the application of high technologies, the state and business in Russia are hastening to regulate these relations using standardization as a core tool. Establishing new national standards and harmonizing them with international standards has become a subject of strong attention and a trend seen in company activities over the past five years.

   Moreover, ambitious developers of domestic standards are trying to achieve a breakthrough in quality in this domain, to promote Russia as a trend-setter in the field of standardization worldwide.

Why National Standards?

   In addition to revising outdated standards inherited as a Soviet legacy, today Russian developers face another important objective – to eliminate regulatory gaps in areas where there are no standards at all!

   In this context, one of the most striking examples is the standardization of the rules for the production and supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Incidentally, plans are underway to begin construction of an LNG plant on the Yamal Peninsula in 2015-2017, which should become Russia’s second largest plant after the Sakhalin plant built eighteen months ago.

   “The gas liquefaction plant built in Sakhalin is almost entirely based on foreign technology. Mainly on Shell’s technology,” Russian Union of Oil and Gas Producers (UOGP) President Gennady Shmal said during an interview with OGE during the NeftegazStandart-2010 International Conference held in Salekhard.
Taking Shmal at his word, the turning point in the transfer of Western technology has come, and domestic businesses has had enough time to adopt foreign expertise: now Russians can move forward on their own on the Yamal Peninsula which yields more than 90 percent of Russia’s gas.

   “I think we have enough brains to build an LNG plant on the Yamal Peninsula using Russian equipment. Just remember the first Yamal gas field, Medvezhe, where all the gas processing facilities involved French equipment. In Urengoi, the first two plants also used some French equipment”, Shmal said.

   He added, “All other GPF’s in Urengoi, which were 2 to 3 times more powerful than the Medvezhe field, were built with domestic equipment.” Schmal said he believed there is still time to develop standards to ensure that “one could build an LNG plant on the Yamal Peninsula, in general, using our domestically-manufactured equipment.”

   Alexander Zazhigalkin, the deputy head of Rosstandart, encourages strengthening Russian equipment manufacturers’ foothold . “If we apply an international standard, we open the road, maybe to a good producer, but still an exporter,” says he. Zazhigalkin adds that even in countries with a high degree of integration into the global economy, such as Germany, the share of national standards is 40%. In addition, Zazhigalkin stresses the importance of “the degree of modernity” of the national standards.

   “Technical regulation everywhere always relies on standards,” Anatoly Baryshnikov, the coordinator of the International Standardization department at Eni E & P, the RG8 Head to harmonize standards between TK12 CEN and the CIS told OGE is response to a question on the role of national standards elsewhere. “Another thing is that mandatory implementation of standards is different in some countries. Oftentimes, the responsibility for complying with standards rests with the corporations. This is no small point because corporations tend to have higher demands for their services, products and technologies. Some states have a good understanding of this.”

   Baryshnikov cited the case of Norway as exemplary. Previously Norway had a number of serious accidents on the shelf entailing compliance with the requirements of national standards developed by the state. According to Baryshnikov, later on the state signed some agreements with the business community, who took on the main responsibility. “Standards are optional and voluntary, but there is a minimum level of requirements prescribed by the state standards with the businesses deciding for themselves which standards should be taken for guidance and, quite often, their demands are higher,”  Baryshnikov says.

Businesses to Develop Standards

   According to data quoted by Zazhigalkin (see Table 1), the contributions abroad to the development of industry standards for small and medium-sized businesses and professional organizations are as high as 85-90 percent, while in Russia they are a mere 7-10 percent.

   But it cannot be said say that Russian business is idle. According to Andrew Lotsmanov, the first deputy head of the RSPP committee on technical regulation, standardization and conformity assessment, high activity is being displayed by pipe manufacturers, who teamed up to fund the development of new standards brought into harmony with international standards.

     “If, for example, the RosStandard provides 400,000 rubles for research, then the pipe industry will add 1.5-2 million rubles more to this amount to develop standards,” Lotsmanov said.

   The development of standards has been financed increasingly by Gazprom, and many of the company’s corporate standards are becoming national standards; some Gazprom standards may even get the chance to form the basis of ISO standards. In 2009-2010, a total of 13 national standards were approved and enacted, according to the Technical Committee for Standardization TK23, “Technique and Technology of Oil Extraction and Refining”, set up with the active participation of Gazprom.

   During this two-year period, another 38 projects on international standards were reviewed, whereby 24 organizations sent 67 comments and reviews to the ISO TC  committee. The most active members of TK23 included the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, GazpromEnergoDiagnostics, Surgutneftegaz and SevKavNIPIgaz.

   A standard for LNG quality was recently developed on a request from Gazprom. Denis Tikhomirov, the director of the Industry Branch Center for Product Quality Assurance and Certification at Gazprom VNIIGAZ LLC, said this standard is required to accommodate the reference gas supply requirements since the quality of LNG depends substantially on the quality of the original gas.

   “There is no ISO standard for the quality of LNG. It is not needed, because LNG trades on the spot market, where every time a batch of a certain quality is sold,” Tikhomirov explains. “Each manufacturer gets his own quality and focusses on specific terminals. For example, a high-calory LNG is produced in the Middle East and sold to Korea and Japan, while a less caloric LNG is sold to the US. Moreover, various terminals in the United States can accept LNG of varying qualities since there is no uniform system of trunk pipelines there.”

ISO: The Russians Are Coming!

   There are plans to make this Gazprom standard a national one. In addition, Tikhomirov said, ISO/TC Committee 193 is setting up a working group on LNG quality which will involve some Russian specialists. “It is a joint idea to create a standard that would set at least some limits, because the range of caloric LNG is very broad and it is hard to predict the quality of gas to be received and adopted. Furthermore, the LNG tends to change its characteristics during transport losing calories,” says Tikhomirov.

   “If we can find a compromise among major producers and suppliers which includes Japan, Korea and the U.S., then we will create such a standard. Its tentative name is LNG Management. We plan to offer our national standard for the basis and it may become international after some modification and passing relevant approval procedures ,”  he adds.

   As far as international LNG standardization is concerned, Tikhomirov said some imbalances in the ISO 8943 sampling standard have been identified. In light of foreign expertise that has been analyzed, Gazprom has developed its recommendations for internal applications, which have to be used in the small-scale production of liquefied petroleum gas for vehicle refueling in preparation for the technical problem in the international standard to be reported to Houston by Russian specialists in late September at the ISO/TC meeting.
At the conference in Salekhard, Tikhomirov received congratulations from his colleagues, for being elected to head the Subcommittee 2 (PC2) “Piping systems” ISO/TC 67, “Materials, equipment and offshore structures for petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industries”. By the way, Tikhomirov became the first Russian to head an ISO subcommittee, and he will hold the position for a minimum of three years. Tikhomirov believes one of the major challenges that lie ahead is to publish the ISO standards in Russian, as it is one of the organization’s international languages. This could facilitate the standards application to a large degree by the professional community which today laments the poor quality of current translations.

In Concert Rather Than In Lieu Of

   The academic Vsevolod Kershenbaum said he thinks it is a mistake to apply international standards instead of harmonization. “We still manufacture not only outdated technologies, as many media report, but modern technologies, too, and they are based on Russian standards,” he said. However, any participant in the Salekhard conference would agree with the assertion that the standards should be changed.

   Marat Mansurov, the assistant manager of the Offshore Oil and Gas Deposits Centre at Gazprom VNIIGAZ LLC, says the GOST standards were, in essence, the standards of an administrative system, while  market conditions dictate new requirements.

   He sees a difference between the two systems in that the Soviet GOST standards were more stringent, while the international standards of today provide more opportunities for rapid adaptation. And this is not the point of view of an outsider. At the TK23 meeting held during the conference, the members of the committee approved by a majority vote the draft standard GOST P/DNV-OS-F101, “Oil and Gas Industry. Submarine Pipeline Systems. General Technical Requirements“, which Mansurov submitted.

   This document, which could become a national standard after being adopted by Rosstandart, is based on the DNV standard. Mansurov says the DNV is authoritative enough in sub-sea standards that the Norwegians’ experience can be quite helpful.

How Can Standards Best Be Harmonized?

   While RosStandard notes that the degree of national standards harmonized with international standards in Russia is on average 44 percent, the oil and gas industry which is the powerhouse of the national economy, averages only 11 percent.

   Deputy Rosstandard Head Alexander Zazhigalkin said he believed globalization means striving for corporate standards and attitudes towards standardization in general. “First and foremost, the oil and gas industry is very extensive, covering a large number of standards in various sectors ranging from engineering and manufacturing of oilfield equipment through to the utilization of associated gas,”  Zazhigalkin said, “The second problem is the active development of international standards. They are adopted in lots, so we do not have time to get them harmonized.

   In addition, we had a dramatic downturn lasting approximately from 1995 to 2005, when we did not develop any standards and lost momentum. The third reason is oil and gas companies’ commitment to international and corporate standards. When implementing various international projects with foreign partners, Russian companies are guided by the standards of ISO, API, DNV, etc., or develop their own corporate systems such is the case at Gazprom, Transneft and LUKOIL.”

   Zazhigalkin noted that as far as national standardization is concerned, “it is not that the companies are not interested, but they have found another way of shaping the technical requirements using either international standards or generating corporate ones.” This, he says, has resulted in the loss of interest towards the national standardization on the part of companies with changes coming somewhat slower. “There were also some organizational problems,” adds Zazhigalkin, “We had to reschedule a number of technical committees for standardization, but when TK23 was launched combining a number of subcommittees the activity was up again.”

Kazakhstan’s Poster Child

   Among the issues of standardization in the CIS, Konstantin Baryshnikov mentioned the lack of coordination which leads to the adoption of often mutually nonequivalent standards, such as the Russian GOST R and Kazakhstan’s ST RK. “In the future,” he argues, “Russia could adopt the international standard for the offshore pipelines.”

   Kazakhstan is doing approximately the same. There are no problems in the case of offshore pipelines, because there are no existing construction guidelines for them regarding the onshore. Therefore, Baryshnikov said, when preparing standards for ground transportation facilities one should take into account the availability of construction guidelines and create a harmonized standard based on DNV or any other international standard.

   Data from 2010 shows that Kazakhstan has the largest number of standards harmonized this year with the ISO TK 67 of all CIS countries.
“The level of harmonization of national standards with international ones in the oil and gas industry of Kazakhstan is 91.4 percent,” Kuanysh Yelikbaev, the Head of Technical Regulation at the GDU NGP JSC at the Ministry of Oil and Gas Industry of Kazakhstan said. Yelikbaev said that Kazakhstan has enacted more than 60 technical regulations to date. For comparison, Russia has enacted only 20. “We hope that Kazakhstan’s experience in developing standards and technical regulations should promote the development of the Customs Union and after some necessary adjustments our technical regulations will become the basis of technical regulations for the Customs Union,” adds Yelikbaev.
Among other issues of interstate standardization, Baryshnikov mentioned the duplication of effort, the lack of effective regulatory frameworks and high cost of operations. For example, the cost of adopting a single standard in Kazakhstan is about 400,000 rubles. Problems are also created by the poor quality of translation and the delayed revision of adopted standards.

Alexei Vakhrushev,
engineering and standardization
manager, Aquatic
The ISO TC67 WG5 “Aluminum drillpipe” working group featuring 41 specialists from eight countries was created in 1996. It cooperates closely with Rosstandart and API to create and harmonize national standards on the basis of existing ISO international standards.
Currently, the group is working on the following standards:
ISO 15546 “Aluminum drillpipe”
ISO 20312 for designing and application of drillstring with components made of aluminum alloys
ISO 27627 “Calibers for pipe threads of aluminum drillpipe”
ISO 13085 “Pipes of aluminum alloys used as coiled tubing”

   These standards spread beyond the area of activity defined in the group’s name and that is why the Technical Committee was asked a number of times to create a subcommittee for aluminum pipe products. The issue still remains open, but if necessary financing is secured, it could be resolved positively.

   Since 1999 Akvatik has been taking an active part in the development of standards within the ISO TC67 WG5 working group and is providing funds because it regards standards as an efficient tool to develop business and promote new technology in the market. That is why we need to increase the participation of small, midsize and large private businesses in setting up standards both as part of Rosstandart and ISO.

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