“Prirazlomnaya” to Launch a “Drilling Campaign” on the Russian Arctic Shelf

September 25, 2011

   “Prirazlomnaya” is the first ever offshore ice-resistant fixed platform (a.k.a. MLSP in Russian). It has been designed for offshore exploration of Prirazlomnoye field, located in the Pechora sea (in the south-western part of the Barents Sea). Construction of the platform had been going on for years, and in August it was finally towed to the oil field. The platform will secure a year-round drilling – both vertical and horizontal — crude oil production and preparation for transportation by tanker.

   The platform is unique as it is able to operate in extreme climatic conditions with the temperature as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius. In this sector of Arctic the ice sheet stays seven months a year, from November to May. The average wave height equals to 3.9 meters, and maximum heights can reach 13 meters.
Special transport and technological system that includes tankers, supply vessels, and a floating oil storage has been developed for exploration of Prirazlomnoye oil field. At the same time, an onshore infrastructure is being created. It consists of a shift camp, airfield for helicopters near the Varandey village, permanent accommodation and offices at Usinsk, as well as supply and technical support base in Murmansk.

How It All Began: The History

   The platform designing began in 1992, right after Rosshelf was founded by a decree of the Russian president. It was founded by Gazprom, the Russian Scientific Center Kurchatov Institute, Sevmash plant, the Rubin design bureau and other regional companies closely connected with exploration of Shtokman and Prirazlomnoye fields. Rosshelf obtained licenses for those fields’ development. The list of investors changed several times and so the list of construction requirements was also modified.

   In 1995, Rosshelf, Gazprom and the Australian company ВНР Petroleum signed the agreement on Prirazlomnoye field development. Rubin was meant to be the main Russian engineering contractor. Nevertheless, soon the activity was suspended due to financial difficulties. Also, ВНР Реtroleum exited the project. The next stage took place in 2002 when Gazprom and Rosneft started collaborating on the venture. Rubin and the design bureau Coral (Sevastopol city) were chosen as the main contractors.

   In the course of construction there were a lot of major modifications introduced, such as changes in field development, location of the platform, number of wells and drilling rigs, the shape of the platform topside structure (the number of topside structure’s modules). At some point a decision was made to use up to 70 percent in initial estimate of Hutton platform equipment bought from Monitor TLP Ltd. It was built in 1984 and operated for approximately 20 years in the North Sea. However, the major part of equipment from Hutton platform was dismantled because of its poor technical condition and replaced with the new one. Line pipes, air duct and cables also had to be changed. Accomodations of Hutton platform appeared to be unsuitable because of their technical condition. So, new accomodations had to be designed by Rubin and built at Vyborg shipyard.

   In 2005