Despite Protests Gazprom Starts Arctic Oil Production
Gazprom says it has started producing oil from the Prirazlomnoye field, which is the first Russian project for developing the Arctic shelf and the commencement, they say, of their large-scale activities aimed at creating a large hydrocarbon production center in the region.
The Prirazlomnoye oil field [scene of an earlier Greenpeace protest] is located in the Pechora Sea, 60 kilometers off the shore. The recoverable oil reserves amount to 71.96 million tons, projected oil production comes up to some 6 million tons a year (to be reached after 2020). The first oil shipment from Prirazlomnoye is expected in the first quarter of 2014, and it is planned to produce no less than 300 thousand tons of oil throughout the year.
The Prirazlomnaya offshore ice-resistant stationary platform secures every process operation in the field – drilling for oil, its production and storage, end product processing and offloading. Gazprom says it the first time in the world that hydrocarbons in the Arctic shelf will be produced by a stationary platform.
Prirazlomnaya, explains Gazprom, was constructed in Russia and is intended for operation under extreme environmental and climatic conditions, meeting the most stringent safety requirements and able to resist high ice loads. Special alloys resistant to corrosion, low temperatures, high humidity and an aggressive marine environment were used during the platform construction. The platform is secured on the seabed by its own weight (506 thousand tons, including the stone berm artificially created for protection against scouring). A high-strength deflector secures the platform from wave and ice exposure.
They add that the design features of Prirazlomnaya fully exclude any oil spills during its production and storage. All the wellheads are situated inside the platform. This way, its foundation serves as a buffer between the wells and the open sea.
Produced oil is stored in the caisson with three-meter-high concrete walls covered with two-layer corrosion- and wear-proof clad steel plate. The safety margin of the Prirazlomnaya caisson Gazprom maintains, exceeds greatly the actual loads.