TOGY talks to
Russia’s booming seismic sceneOctober 10, 2019
Yan Sharipov, general director of TNG Group, talks to TOGY about demand for seismic services in Russia and challenges the market is experiencing, as well as the company’s exploration project at the Tambeyskoye gasfield. TNG Group provides oilfield services such as seismic acquisition and processing, measurement-while-drilling and logging-while-drilling.
How is the demand for seismic services in Russia evolving?
The seismic exploration market is experiencing a real boom these days. Rosneft has expressed its readiness to work with 14 different seismic companies in Eastern Siberia only. This number of seismic companies does not even exist in Russia. The same goes for Western Siberia. Rosneft is one of the largest oil companies in Russia and it cannot contract 50% of its needs due to the lack of contractors. Almost all seismic companies in Russia are occupied.
What challenges is the Russian seismic services market experiencing?
The first challenge is that all contractors’ assets are ageing, including ours. However, the pricing which is on the market today does not allow companies to actively build up opportunities for investing in new equipment. Prices have to increase by 15-20% in order for us to be able to buy new equipment. Our customers are not willing to deal with this increase.
The second very important challenge is forestry. Due to the problems that come with forest fires, the government ensures that the full volume of the trees cut down for seismic exploration are restored by the subsoil user in an adjoining territory. However, these reforestation costs exceed the cost of seismic exploration. This is a great limitation, because subsoil users are experiencing difficulties planning their expenses for seismic exploration of new fields.
The third challenge is human resources. For this job, people with a certain mentality and character are needed. The romance of the 1960s and 1970s is long gone. At that time, there were people that gladly travelled to work in the taiga and Siberia. Today’s youth are more attracted to gadgets and screens. Being offline and away from the internet for six months per year is not very appealing. This is why most young people that we train want to stay in Kazan [Republic of Tatarstan], Moscow, and even in Bugulma [Republic of Tatarstan]; it is very difficult to drag them out to the fields.
What are the details of your ongoing exploration work in the Tambeyskoye fields?
Gazprom is exploring Yamal at a depth of 6,000 metres, aiming to study the upper and lower parts of the section. This is a huge project for the future. Despite that, drilling is not planned at this depth today, but Gazprom is nonetheless thinking about what it is going to do tomorrow. To perform this operation, not only seismic exploration is used, but also gravity exploration, electrical exploration and a number of other non-seismic methods to acquire maximum detailed information on the section at such large depths.
Our company is sending a large number of employees and a lot of equipment there. We even exceeded our operational plans. In other words, we will finish the project earlier than the planned three years. We have applied new technologies, such as slip-sweep, which is a technique based on simultaneous operation of several groups of vibrators.
What were TNG Group’s main achievements in 2019?
In 2019, we completed a number of important projects. In the past, we specialised in regional projects of 300-500 square kilometres. Today, we can proudly say that we are able to work on projects of more than 1,000 square kilometres during the winter season.
Our second achievement was that we started to work on the shelf in Russia, more precisely in the northern seas. Not so long ago, we worked in the Caspian and in the Sea of Okhotsk. And today our main areas of focus are the Kara Sea and the Barents Sea. We are working in the Tambeyskoye fields [in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District], where we conduct exploration works with a depth of 30 metres. Today, we have already started working for Gazprom in the Arctic shelf. We perform well surveys and vertical seismic profiling on a floating platform.
How would you assess the level of competition in the Russian market and what are your competitive advantages in Russia?
A key competitive advantage we have as a service company is our people. They are real professionals. We are sure that all our work will be done well and on time.
Our company has investment opportunities. The fact that we are within a huge holding allows us to attract investment resources to work on large projects. It is very difficult to obtain a loan from Russian banks. Attracting investment resources is not on the list of our problems, provided that there are interesting projects with payback.
Another of our advantages is that we have a very large territorial presence. We can mobilise a team for any project announced anywhere across Russia.
We also benefit from our strong reputation. We have been on the market for 65 years. We do not have a single project that we did not finish on time. We have nothing to be ashamed of in front of our customers.
How important is it for TNG Group to develop its activity abroad?
It is very important for us to develop on the African and Asian continents. We used to do a lot of work in Libya, Angola and Gabon. These projects were not large but they were important for our company. Right now we have a project in India. We also won a tender in Pakistan, where we plan to start work at the beginning of 2020. We have projects in Iraq and Syria. These projects are really interesting and important because they enable us to diversify our business. Due to the volatility of the oil industry, it is important for us to be able to quickly rearrange our resources.