Potential in Russia’s ArcticMarch 3, 2020
Andrey Timin, director-general of Morneftegazproject, talks to TOGY about the company’s projects on the Arctic shelf and the challenges of conducting engineering works in Russia. Morneftegazproject, owned by Gazprom Neft Group of Companies, is an engineering company that specialises in project design and the support of offshore oil and gasfield development.
What projects are you currently working on in Russia?
We are the centre of offshore technical expertise, whose area of responsibility includes all activities related to preparatory and project studies of offshore fields or the marine area of the onshore fields (from platforms to export terminals and integrated supply bases), which are part of the Gazprom Neft offshore project portfolio.
We are working, for example, on projects related to the high-potential development of the Ayashsky licence block in Sakhalin. At the Kheysovsky licence block, we have already assessed the technical feasibility of oil production in an area with extreme climate and environmental conditions. At the next stage, we will carry out the development of the concept and pre-FEED studies. Now, we are updating the facility development concept of the Dolginsky oilfield.
Also, in the near future we are planning to update the conceptual design of the North Wrangel licence block facility development after receiving the latest geological data. Also, in the nearest time after receiving new geological data, we will update the concept of the North-West licence block facility development. We are constantly carrying out work on the platform technical support at the Prirazlomnoye field, which is our “anchor project.”
What were the key achievements of Morneftegazproject in 2018 and 2019?
The most important task that we have completed during these two years was the formation of our team. In such a short time we managed to create a very professional team, perhaps one of the best in Russia in terms of expertise.
The team of Morneftegazproject employs the specialists who have carried out almost all major offshore projects in our country in terms of platform engineering design, subsea production systems and submarine pipeline laying. For example, we completed the entire scope of work related to the construction of the Prirazlomnaya offshore ice-resistant oil-producing stationary platform on the Arctic shelf – from concept to participation in commissioning in 2013. We are currently supervising the platform operation. In addition, many specialists who worked at the unique Kirinskoye field (the only existing gas production project in the world where the subsea production system works under ice) are also now part of the Morneftegazproject team.
How would you describe the engineering project management features in Russia?
Russian legislation and approaches differ from Western ones. These differences are mainly related to the phases of the project and their implementation requirements by both government bodies and companies. However, recently these differences have begun to fade, especially from the companies’ side. The vast experience of co-operation with Russian and foreign companies allows Morneftegazproject to adapt and bring together different approaches and achieve success in the projects.
What experience have you gained in dealing with complex projects?
Let’s take the Prirazlomnoye field as an example. While participating in this project implementation, we have accumulated deep knowledge and good understanding of the technical and operational difficulties connected with the platform operation in harsh climatic and environmental conditions. This is a unique experience that no one else has in Russia. It allows us to design even more efficient facilities for the development of offshore Arctic fields. The Sakhalin offshore projects of Gazprom Neft can be another example. We performed an extraordinary task – we worked on the issue of subsea oil production under ice. Successful continuation of this work may influence further development of Arctic oil production.
How would you evaluate the importance of the Arctic shelf for the development of the Russian oil and gas industry?
Participating in the projects implemented by Gazprom Neft convinced us of the enormous resource potential that exists on the Arctic shelf. Our task is to find a way to use it despite the harsh climatic conditions. We are aiming at finding a cost-effective and technically feasible way to implement offshore projects, while ensuring the safe coexistence of nature and oil and gas infrastructure.
Should the Russian oil and gas industry continue developing the Arctic shelf or focus on its land-based resources that are considered more accessible and explored?
In my opinion, we should not focus on just one thing. If we concentrate all our resources only on land, we will lose time on developing offshore projects. In this case, when the amount of ground resources decreases, it will take too much time to start from scratch and put into operation new offshore projects. Therefore, it is important to simultaneously develop new projects on land and at sea, work on existing opportunities and study opportunities on the shelf so that they complement one another.
What new technologies and solutions are necessary for the Arctic shelf development?
We can already develop almost any field with existing technologies. This is the most important point. But it is necessary to properly assess the risks and costs. The main goal is to reduce the cost of project implementation and increase risk control. At the same time it is necessary to move in this direction, improving current technologies and developing new ones.
What are your development plans for the coming years?
Our goal is to become one of the leading companies in Russia in terms of offshore field development and infrastructure, not only for the offshore projects of Gazprom Neft, but also for other companies in Russia and the CIS. We are negotiating with one of them on co-operation regarding subsea gas production. We are also thinking about approaching foreign markets with engineering support for resource extraction projects in the Arctic zone, where we can apply our unique experience.