In 2014, the Winter Olympic Games will take place in the Russian resort town of Sochi. At the moment, large-scale construction works are being developed there – hotels, sport and infrastructure facilities are in the process of being built. Projects to convert major land and sea transport systems to gas are also being considered because existing gas transportation facilities are insufficient to provide for the increasing demand in the region.
In order to solve this problem, OJSC Gazprom launched construction of the Dzhubga-Lazarevskoye-Sochi pipeline in 2009. The gas pipeline will stretch for 177 kilometers, including the 159.5-km offshore section. The 530-mm gas pipeline will have annual throughput capacity of some 3.78 Bcm and design life of 50 years.
JSC StroyGazMpntazh is the general contractor charged with building the onshore portion of the project while Grup Servicii Petroliere is building the offshore section of the pipeline.
The route of the new pipeline starts at the Blue Stream Pipeline in Krasnodarskaya that was inaugurated in November 2005 to supply Russian gas to Turkey. From here, the pipeline will run on the Black Sea floor, some 4.5 km from shore in water depths of 70 meters, to the Kudepsta gas distribution station near Sochi.
An onshore pipeline routing option was considered, however, it was realized that significant territories – including special protected territories such as Sochi National Park and the Caucasian State Nature Biosphere Reserve – would be negatively affected.
Instead, PeterGazEngineering Company worked out the documentation in such a way that the construction area is reduced through the use of the latest technology and efficient arrangement of machines while construction and assembly works are going on. A decision to use directional drilling on the project considerably mitigates the environmental impact on the most vulnerable coastal ecosystems and recreation areas.
The elevation differences of deviating wells which reach up to 90 meters complicate the procedure. To counter this, directional drilling sections and offshore linear pipeline portions are assembled with the help of flex joints without removal of pipe. In this way, all beaches and surrounding areas will remain untouched.
The first pipeline joint for the new pipeline was welded on Sept. 28, 2009. Aleksey Miller, the head of Gazprom who was present at the ceremony, called the project “a key to economic progress of the region.” Future development of the Krasnodar region largely depends on the project implementation. The Tuapse Refinery and Adler thermal power plant are among future consumers of gas provided by Blue Stream.
Current gasification level of the Tuapse region, where more than 120,000 people live, is extremely low – less than 10% (all Krasnodar region – 70%). When the new pipeline is brought into production it will reach up to 90% of area residents.
Offshore Pipeline Section
Laying of the offshore section was launched in March 2010. The pipeline will reach land near the towns of Dzhubga, Novomikhaylovskoye, Tuapse, Kudepsta. Near the village of Kudepsta as well as the Shakhe Canyon the offshore pipeline section will have to be raised from the favorable interval of 60-70 meters to 12-15 meters to address concerns about wave action. In order to counter the hydrodynamic forces, concrete weight-coated pipes are being buried 1-1.5 meters below the sea bed.
The offshore work will be performed with the help of the dynamically positioned, 140-meter-long C-Master pipe-laying barge with a displacement of 140,000 tons. The vessel proved herself while working in the Indian Ocean and in the South Pars field in the Persian Gulf.
Along with C-Master, the Bigfoot 1pipelay barge will be used to install the pipeline in shallow water, while the Phoenix is being used to transport construction crews, materials (including pipes) and food to the pipelay barges. The research ship Prince is performing underwater engineering work.
Along with the pipeline, high and medium pressure networks are being constructed: two sea-land transitions to gas distribution stations near the towns of Dzhubga and Novomikhaylovskoye, as well as two near Tuapse. Gas will run from these unattended stations to gas distribution networks which will also be constructed by Gazprom.
Blue Stream Capacity Increase
It’s necessary to mention that since the launch of Blue Stream, Gazprom has been steadily increasing gas flow volumes: in 2006 – 7.5 Bcm, in 2007 – 9.7 Bcm, in 2009 – 9.7 Bcm and, depending on market fluctuations, plans are to transport from 10-16 Bcm of fuel to Turkey this year.
Also, in order to provide the gas needed for the Dzhubga-Lazarevskoye-Sochi pipeline, Gazprom plans to increase the capacity of the Russian section of the Blue Stream. CJSC GazpromInvestYug is reconstructing the Krasnodarskaya Compressor Station. An additional gas processing facility with the capacity of 4 Bcm/y will be constructed as well. Plans also include the construction of the new Kubanskaya compressorsStation with three gas pumping facilities with the capacity of 10 MW each.
At the end of 2009, Giprospetzgas Institute started engineering the new facilities. Both the detailed design of the new compressor stations and site preparation is scheduled to start later this year, according to Nail Rakhmatullin, technical manager at GazpromInvestYug. Plans call for the facilities to be launched in 2012.
Aleksandr Frolov is a Russian journalist and analyst at the National Energy Institute. He is a graduate of Moscow State University and regularly contributes articles on oil and gas to the Russian federal mass media.