Gazprom announced In December the start of oil production from the Prirazlomnoye Field. It is the first Russian project for developing Arctic shelf reserves and the beginning of Gazprom’s large-scale activities aimed at creating a large hydrocarbon production center in the region.
The oil field is located 60 km offshore in the Pechora Sea. Recoverable oil reserves are estimated at 72 million tons; projected oil production is expected to be 6 million tons per annum (to be reached after 2020). The first oil shipment from is expected shortly and plans are to produce at least 300,000 tons of oil throughout the year.
The Prirazlomnoye Field is the first in the world where hydrocarbons in the Arctic shelf will be produced by a stationary platform. It is built for operations under extreme environmental and climatic conditions and can resist high ice loads. It is secured to the seabed by its own weight (506,000 tons), including a stone berm artificially created for protection against scouring. A high-strength deflector secures the platform from wave and ice exposure.
The platform is designed to prevent oil spills during production and storage. All the wellheads are situated inside the platform. This enables the foundation to serve as a buffer between the wells and the open sea. Produced oil is stored in caissons with 3-meter-high concrete walls covered with two-layer corrosion and wear-proof clad steel plate. The safety margin of the Prirazlomnoye caisson exceeds the actual loads.
In order to pump the end products into vessels for transport, special equipment for direct oil loading was developed. The loading block system goes off in seven seconds at most, making it possible to avoid accidental oil spills. Year-round product shipments will be secured by the Mikhail Ulyanov and Kirill Lavrov, two super ice-class oil vessels with double hulls and a deadweight (cargo weight) capacity of 70,000 tons. These vessels were specially designed for shipping oil from Prirazlomnoye to market.
Despite the platform being well-protected in case of emergencies, an elaborate set of protection measures was developed to keep the staff safe as well as the environment and the platform. Special-purpose ice-breakers Yury Topchev and Vladislav Strizhev will be on call safeguarding the waters near Prirazlomnoye. An emergency center is located onshore in the Varandey settlement, 60 km from the platform.
Particular attention is paid to immediate responses in the unlikely event of an oil spill. For instance, provision is made for oil containment booms, high-capacity oil skimmers, outboard oil-in-ice skimmers and an oil-in-ice recovery bucket.
The project operator of the Prirazlomnoye field is Gazprom Neft and the license holder is Gazprom Neft Shelf (a wholly owned subsidiary of Gazprom). Gazprom also holds 30 field licenses on the Russian Arctic shelf.