№11 November 2011Table of contents Issue Archive
№ 11 (November 2011)
Arctic Ocean is the largest oil&gas province in the world. Which means that its development is inevitable, though it will require tremendous resources.
(Igor Gramberg, RAS academician, 1970s)
By Antonina Petrova
Arctic exploration experts believe that this century is already passing under the banner of undersea development, the resources that are already explored or will be explored in a foreseeable future. Humanity is doomed to engage in development of undersea resources. Regretfully, the Russian experts were not the pioneers in this field and are facing very strong competition that has already developed. The shelf is, essentially, a huge market for services, science and technology, it is flagrant investments and vast resources. And the resources – well, as is known from the history of mankind, usually the history is the story of the struggle for resources.
Problems of Arctic exploration – field development, E&P in extreme environments – were the focal point of the first AEE 2011 conference, held in Moscow in late October by SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers) and Reed Exhibitions.
“Arctic development is one of the key tasks of the international community. In order to succeed, we have to solve a range of issues linked to technology, capital and human resources,” said SPE president Alain Labastie at the conference opening event. “In Arctic development, we need to develop a strategy that takes into account the best international experiences and the requirements native to Arctic regions,” noted Vladimir Vladimirov, vice-governor of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District.
Naturally, majors, with their expertise in developing cold-climate fields and design and construction of tailored equipment for offshore operations, are very keen on participating in the Russian Arctic projects. For example, Maxim Marchenko, Total’s deputy director of business development, marks company’s active participation for the past 40 years in various E&P projects and more recently – in Russian Arctic projects such as Shtokman (25 percent), Khariaga field (40 percent), Thermokarst field (49 percent, under development); Total set to become the main foreign partner in the Yamal-LNG project (operated by Novatek), etc.
The experience of working in cold climate was shared by some other well-known names. Statoil (Norway, John Milne), noted the importance of the agreement on the maritime delimitation in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean – this would facilitate “responsible and safe” exploration and long-term cooperation with Russia. Infield Energy Analysts (UK, Julian Callanan), evaluated activities on offshore oilfields, stressing that Russia’s exploration is underdeveloped to date. Christian Bukovich (Shell Exploration and Production Services) spoke about his company’s challenges and breakthroughs in Arctic offshore exploration endeavours, in particular, about underwater seismic surveys under and oil spill containment systems for the Arctic.
A take on the problems and prospects of oil and gas resources in the Russian Arctic was given by Anatoly Zolotukhin, vice chancellor of Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas and vice president of the World Petroleum Council. The expert noted that Russia’s potential was in nonconventional resources, with key production areas (150 million tons per year by 2030) moving to northern seas (Barents, Kara, Pechora and Okhotskoye). According to Zolotukhin, there are still some difficulties, such as the high price of shelf-produced oil, long distances and, respectively, high transport costs, outdated technology, and lack of qualified staff.
In three days, the conference was attended by about 500 delegates, who listened and aired 57 presentations, including both technical and knowledge-sharing sessions. Ten technical sessions and three plenary sittings ensured the widest possible coverage of Arctic-related issues, including innovation, investment, environmental protection, and social responsibility.