November 24, 2011
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№ 10 (October 2011)

Nord Stream Brings Siberian Resources to Europe

Quite recently the most anticipated project of the world power industry has begun operating — the Nord Stream gas pipeline. On November 8, Russian gas supplies to Europe started. The project will help decrease Russia’s reliance on transit countries and provide stability and safety for gas deliveries. The Nord Stream pipeline runs along the seabed of the Baltic Sea, from Vyborg (Leningrad region) up to Greifswald (Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) and connects Russian gas fields with European consumers.  

By Anna Kuzavova

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Everyone understands how significant the Nord Stream is, but t the same time, no gas pipeline can operate without a stable gas feed. That is why the Nord Stream project should be reviewed in the integrated manner in terms of both logistics and resources.

Gasprom’s gas transportation system will ensure gas feeding to the Nord Stream. Initially, the Yuzhno-Russkoye field  in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District will be used as a resource base, later Shtokman’s resources will be used for the same purpose as well.

Resource Base is the Way to Success

With regard to reserves, the Yuzhno-Russkoye oil and gas condensate field is the one of the Russia’s largest. Its total volume exceeds 1 billion cubic meters of gas and 40 million tons of oil.

The project is international, and the field is being developed by three shareholders: Russia’s Gazprom;  German Wintershall, a 100-percent subsidiary of BASF; and E.ON Ruhrgas E&P, a 100-percent subsidiary of E.ON group of companies.

The Yuzhno-Russkoye field was discovered in 1969 by the Urengoi Oil and Gas Exploration Expedition. However, in Soviet period the field’s development was suspended.  It started a new life in 2004 after Gazprom had defined the procedure to bring the field into operation using the project’s financing.

In 2006, works on the field infrastructure had been  commenced and in October 2007, the actual gas production began. Also in 2007, the field officially went into operation and Gazprom’s CEOs stressed the field’s significance for Russia’s gas production. At the inauguration ceremony Gazprom’s BOD chairman Alexei Miller stated: “Start of the Yuzhno-Russkoye’s operation is the most important event in Gazprom’s business life in 2007. This is a striking example of implementation of the company’s consistent policy aimed at the increase of its production capacity and formation of reliable reserves to ensure stability and safety of gas supplies to both local and international markets.”

Today, the Yuzhno-Russkoye field has reached its estimated capacity in terms of production volumes. As of 2009, its annual gas production amounts to 25 billion cubic meters and this production level is not expected to decline in the next 10 years.

After the Nord Stream commissioning, Severneftegazprom’s responsibility with regard to maintaining the field’s production level increases given the company’s important role as the provider of a resource base for the gas pipeline.

Implementation of Innovations

The Yuzhno-Russkoye field was brought into operation and reached a commercial gas production level at the earliest possible date – in less than two years, given that the infrastructure had been built from scratch. One may say without exaggeration that innovative process solutions used for the project are the most advanced ones: to ensure gas production stability, for all stages of the project the state-of-the-art control systems with the latest generation hardware and software have been employed.

A complex gas treatment plant is the highly automated complex equipped with a modern Russian and foreign equipment combining modern precision technologies, automation and project solutions.

Control systems are equipped with special instrumentation, telemetry complex and software which enable to provide operative control of all processes, maintain optimal parameters of the equipment’s operation, instantly warn about problems, and prevent contingency and emergency.

Technical solutions employed at the Yuzhno-Russkoye field have to boost up productivity, efficiency and reliability of equipment as well as reduce additional expenses and negative impact on the environment.

The field’s booster station used to compress the formation gas employes four Ural gas compressor units, each equipped with electric drive gas blowers, magnetic levitation systems and dry gas seals. Severneftegazprom became the first one among Gazprom Group’s companies to employ such equipment. Innovative solutions are used in the systems which control operation of gas wells and of gas gathering line headers and also in the systems for gas dehydration and tank gas metering.

At the well they also constructed a captive power plant which is equipped with self-contained gas turbine units and which provides generation of total power and this power plant is also distinguished with a high operational reliability while having good thermal performance, environmental, technical and economic characteristics.

High Technologies Overcome Difficulties

The main gas reserves (over 600 billion cubic meters) of the Yuzhno-Russkoye field are concentrated in the Cenomanian deposits which are considered to be normal in terms of their recoverability. Moreover, about 30 percent of total gas reserves occur in the Turonian gas reservoir. They are estimated as hard to recover reserves due to reservoirs’ low permeability, variability of their extension, small gas flow rate, low reservoir temperatures and abnormally high reservoir pressure. That is why, to efficiently develop the field, experience and technologies pertaining to development of hard-to-recover reserves are needed.

Severneftegazprom was the first in Russia to start development of Turonian gas deposits. Moreover, previously neither Russian nor Western companies attempted commercial development of such deposits in Western Siberia.  

Development of Turonian deposits drilling straight holes is deemed inefficient and economically unsound. Given the above stated, the company’s experience in drilling a multilateral subhorizontal well is truly unique. The motherbore of the multibranch well has the system of well completion intended for separate operation of equipment at separate pipe strings.  Such system of parallel tubing completion enables to perform the works on development and exploration separately in every well bore. Besides, this technology gives a separate access to the motherbore and to a branch hole of the well, thereby increasing the well’s productivity and the volume of produced gas.

Severneftegazprom invited the best Russian and Western specialists to work on the project: the well had been constructed under the project developed jointly with TymenNIIgiprogaz. Gazprom bureniye and Halliburton became the main drilling contractors.

In 2011, successful work resulted in drilling of the first multilateral well in Turonian reservoir. The well is currently in test production, and tests continue. However, they have already yielded good results:  on May 12, 2011 the first Turonian gas was produced from the well. The well’s estimated production rate has been set at the level of 197,000 cubic meters per day. By the year-end, Severneftegazprom  plans to connect it to the existing gas-collecting network of Senomanian wells.  

Commercial gas production from the Yuzhno-Russkoye’s Turonian gas reservoir is expected to start after 2020. However, today the company is already laying down the foundation to ensure the long-term success.

Company Brief

Severneftegazprom is one of the largest gas producing companies in the RF. It is an international, Russian-German joint project in the gas production industry. As for the company’s shareholders, Gazprom is the main one (50 percent + six registered ordinary shares). The other two shareholders are BASF SE with 25 percent (three registered ordinary shares) + three privileged shares without the voting right, and E.ON AG, also with 25 percent (three registered ordinary shares) + three privileged shares without the voting right.

Severneftegazprom provides an example of efficient Russian-German cooperation, joining Western technologies and Russian experience pertaining to operation in severe climate.   

In 2011 the company celebrated its 10th anniversary and showed outstanding performance specially mentioned by both shareholders’ and international industry’s representatives.

Stanislav Tsygankov, General Director, Severneftegazprom:
It is a great honour for our company and for me personally to participate in such a large-scale global project as Nord Stream. Any resources will be of no use without a developed transport infrastructure. Similarly, the infrastructure becomes useless without sufficient resources. That is why projects of this kind, where every link is important, may be considered integrated.

Currently, the Yuzhno-Russkoye field has reached the estimated gas production that ensures stable gas supply for the Nord Stream. The future may offer us many plans, projects and initiatives, and I am convinced that all of them will be implemented through the efficient teamwork, support of our shareholders and partners, as well as maintenance and improvement of our technological base.
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