Prirazlomnaya Rig: Myths and Reality

By Elena Zhuk, November 10, 2013

response, including equipment designed for ice conditions. We may argue about the efficiency of certain units in certain situations, we may discuss approaches to modeling and spills, but to say that there are no technologies and methods would be deceitful.

The equipment that we have is the most modern and most efficient for our conditions. In compliance with the list of vendors in the spill response plan we acquired it from Lamor, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of this type of systems.

But we all know that the market is constantly evolving, instantly responding to the emerging demand. New, more advanced systems and technologies appear, those that can solve the tasks more efficiently. We constantly monitor what is happening in this area.

OGE: How do you clean the spill?

Lyubin: I just want to note that our chief goal is to make sure that this equipment is never used. Taking into account design features of the platform and its systems, the possibility of accidents is extremely low. For example, in the event of any failure the emergency protection system blocks the oil transshipment in seven seconds! Under such conditions large spills are virtually impossible. As you know, at various ports around the world huge volumes of oil are transshipped to vessels on a daily basis and no one considers it a lethal threat to the environment.

However, the platform is constantly monitored by two ships with the latest generation of oil recovery equipment fit for use in winter conditions. Also, we continue to study all technological novelties offered in the market to address the issue of spill response. And if an opportunity to improve the quality of our equipment comes along, we will use it.

OGE: Environmentalists assert that the maximum spill could reach tens of thousands of tons of oil, spreading over 140,000 square kilometers and 3,500 kilometers of the coast. Do your estimates provide the same figures?

Lyubin: Such calculations are based on absolutely surreal data. For example, they consider the scenario of the platform base being damaged – the caisson, where the oil is going to be stored. But the caisson wall is a three-meter thick concrete wall covered with more than four centimeters of clad steel! This is a special high-hardness steel, resistant to corrosion and wear. In fact, such structure can even withstand overload. In other words, we are talking about events that simply cannot happen in everyday life and have nothing to do with the commercial development of the field. Of course, in theory it is possible to contemplate any script based on the assumption that if you don’t do that, environmental safety might be in danger. But that kind of thinking is absurd.

The boundaries of the projected oil spill are also artificially enlarged in the southern and western directions despite hydrometeorological conditions. The calculations that occasionally appear in the press feature a hypothetical oil stain that keeps expanding for 10 days. This is not possible in principle,