22 November 2011, 11:51

The Shtokman Field

The Shtokman Field

The Arctic Region is one of Russia’s strategically important areas and among the Russian Federation’s priority projects for the Arctic is the development of the Shtokman Field.

The Arctic Region is one of Russia’s strategically important areas and among the Russian Federation’s priority projects for the Arctic is the development of the Shtokman Field. It is located in the central part of the Russian sector of the Barents Sea, 600 kilometers northeast of Murmansk, in area where the sea depths are up to 340 meters.

The Shtokman field is among the world’s top ten with its reserves being estimated at nearly 4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and about 56 million tons of gas condensate.

Pipeline gas production will start in 2016 with the Russian-French-Norwegian Shtokman Development AG consortium, founded in 2008, in charge of the first phase of the project. The consortium will continue to run the project for 25 years after it has been put into full operation.

Russia’s Gazprom owns 51% of the shares of the project, the French concern Total 25% and the Norwegian Statoil 24%. The three giants plan to implement the most advanced technologies in all phases of the project as well as guaranteeing security and the efficient management of all operations related to the field.

The large scale of operations in the harsh conditions of the Arctic call for the creation of brand new solutions, this and the fact that its production area is located far beyond the Arctic Circle, make the Shtokman Project unique.

Due to the extreme Arctic conditions, all construction and assembly work will have to be completed in a very short period of time. Experts have repeatedly observed icebergs near the exploration area and the field’s remoteness from the coastline makes it difficult to deliver supplies and maintain the operation of the equipment and the infrastructure facilities.

Companies operating the Shtokman field will employ top-of-the-line technology, an underwater production system and floating platforms.

A flexible pipeline system will connect floating platforms with a special ice-resistant collection vessel which will be one of the largest worldwide. It will have about 25,000 tons of displacement and be 330 meters long and three football pitches in size.

The vessel will house a power station, a number of gas compressors, gas production equipment and living quarters for the crews.

Gas will be pumped via a 550 kilometer long twin pipeline to an onshore Liquefied Natural Gas plant with a capacity of 7.5 million tons a year near the village of Teriberka where it will hook up with another pipeline which will run from Murmansk to Volkhov and thus enter the Unified Gas Supply System of Russia where it will go on to fill the Nord Stream pipeline.

The Nord Stream’s first line is already in operation as of this writing and the second will be completed by the end of 2012. Nord Stream will carry gas directly to Germany and other EU countries, bypassing Ukraine.

Liquefied gas will be delivered to consumers in gas tankers by sea.

The Arctic University in Arkhangelsk is training personnel for operating the Shtokman facilities. Rector Yelena Kudryashova says that it’s important for employers to participate in developing training programs. The Arctic University is working in close cooperation with companies involved in the development of the Shtokman deposits. For years, she says, they have been training specialists for working on the Arctic sea shelf. The University has established cooperation with Gazprom, Shtokman Development, Total, and Statoil.

The Shtokman Project provides for a full production cycle, including exploration, processing and transportation. In th  e first stage it will be possible to produce 23.7 billion cubic meters of gas annually building up through the second stage and by the third stage a total production volume of over 71 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 650,000 tons of gas condensate a year will be possible. This is comparable to the yearly gas consumption of major European countries such as Germany.

Originally it had been planned to ship Shtokman's gas to the United States. However this was later reconsidered amid the rapidly growing shale gas output in the US. 

For the U.S. plans to import liquefied gas from Shtokman are not off the agenda yet. A special branch of Gazprom has been formed in the U.S. called Gazprom Marketing & Trading USA, which will look into the possibility of organizing LNG supplies from the Shtokman deposits and has clinched work contracts with 100 players on the U.S. gas market.

While the Northern Sea Route becomes more and more operational, there are plans to pump Shtokman gas to Asian markets as well. Gas talks are already under way with Indian companies and Gazprom has agreed on LNG supplies to India at a total volume of up to 7.5 million tons a year over a period of 25 years.

Thanks in part to the Shtokman field, Gazprom will sell gas on all the major markets of the world and will be able to regulate gas supply volumes depending on the situation on the global market.

The Shtokman project will bring Russia’s Arctic gas to global energy markets in the very near future.

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