March 2, 2021
Published in corporate Gazprom Magazine Issue 1–2, interview conducted by Olga Zhivaya
Igor Krutikov, Director General of Gazprom Dobycha Noyabrsk, answers questions from Gazprom Magazine
- Mr. Krutikov, for the last few years, the creation of the Yakutia gas production center has been an area of close focus. What does this project mean to you personally?
First of all, it is a tremendous experience: a cutting-edge industrial complex for hydrocarbon production was built in Yakutia from scratch in a few years, and now we are able to produce not only gas but also condensate and helium there, as well as develop oil fields jointly with Gazpromneft-Zapolyarye.
The Chayandinskoye oil, gas and condensate field (COGCF) was put into operation in December 2019, but its infrastructure development was actively ongoing throughout 2020. The production infrastructure and camps for the personnel were being built, new equipment was being delivered, start-up and commissioning activities were being carried out, and the facilities of the project’s second phase were being prepared for operation: gas pre-treatment unit No. 2 and a membrane unit for helium concentrate extraction, an auxiliary power plant, and 34 pads of gas well clusters. Since the official launch of the Chayandinskoye field, its production capacity has considerably increased: the daily volume of gas supplied into the Power of Siberia trunkline grew 2.9-fold in 12 months.
The gas and gas condensate collection system has a “smart” infrastructure, which, inter alia, includes wells equipped with remote control and telemetry devices. Gas production is performed with the use of lightly manned technologies that we have already tried before: the production process is carried out remotely and controlled by an operator from an automated workplace via the main control board, and the production data are transmitted online by cutting-edge monitoring systems. This makes the process highly automated and very safe.
- Please tell us about helium production.
The operations performed by the membrane unit for helium concentrate extraction (MUHCE), a unique and large-scale production complex, involve true nanotechnologies. For instance, cassette parts with membranes are installed at the facility: natural gas flows through the membranes in stages, and helium concentrate is extracted as a result of this. The Gazprom-patented membrane gas separation method of helium extraction is innovative for the gas industry both in Russia and all over the world. Helium has never been extracted from natural gas via industrial-scale use of a two-stage membrane unit before. This method provides for a rational utilization of helium as a strategic resource.
The helium treatment procedure is as follows. Dry gas is sent to stage 1 membrane separation section. Here, the feedstock is separated into commercial-grade gas with a helium content of 0.05 per cent, which is then sent to the Amur Gas Processing Plant via Power of Siberia, as well as permeate (helium-enriched gas) with a helium content of 9.75 per cent that, after passing through other stages in the MUHCE, increases to 36‒37 per cent. Permeate is then compressed and fed into a helium pipeline of about 7 kilometers in length leading to the injection wells which pump the permeate into reservoirs for its underground storage and later use.
This is required because the planned production volumes of this inert gas exceed the market demand. In order to adjust the supply volumes, the feedstock produced can be put into long-term geological storage at Chayandinskoye.
In addition to that, the MUHCE uses gas compressor units (GCUs) of a unique configuration which were manufactured on the basis of a gas turbine engine and two-case centrifugal compressors. The units make it possible to achieve extreme 66.4-fold increases of pressure. High pressure is required to inject helium into reservoirs.
- How is the energy independence of facilities achieved at the COGCF?
This issue is always important for remote facilities, which cannot cover all of their power needs through off-site power supply sources. A 72-MW auxiliary power plant (APP) is ready for launch at Chayandinskoye. The plant is to serve the facility’s growing needs for power and heat. According to the design calculations, the electrical load of the COGCF’s production infrastructure is expected to exceed 66 MW by 2047.
In the near future, the APP will supply electricity to the facilities of the Chayandinskoye field – the support base, CGTU-3, the solid household and industrial waste landfill site, water intake and treatment facilities, GPTU-2 and GPTU-4 – and will also supply heat to the site of CGTU-3. The auxiliary power plant consists of three power modules, each accommodating two generating units with a capacity of 12 MW per unit. Natural gas from Chayandinskoye will be used as a fuel for power generation. I can also say that cutting-edge equipment of domestic make is installed at the APP. The facility will be operated by Gazprom Energo.
- Today, great importance is attached to the environmental protection issues related to oil and gas production. Please tell us what new green technologies have been applied at the Chayandinskoye field.
The environmental situation at Chayandinskoye is in perfect order. Green technologies have been applied, for instance, during the construction of the solid household and industrial waste landfill site and at the wastewater treatment facilities. The landfill site, which occupies 14 hectares, is divided into several cells. The foundation of the landfill site is a multi-level protection system that includes a sand cushion, geotextile, a waterproofing layer, and heat insulation screens made of extruded polystyrene foam, all of which serve to protect the permafrost.
What is more, this facility is equipped with a thermal unit for the treatment of production waste. Through incineration at a temperature of up to 1,200 degrees Celsius, a ton of runoff turns into 100‒150 grams of ash. Moreover, all chemical elements are deactivated during thermal destruction. Everything left after the destruction process is brought to the solid household and industrial waste landfill site. This is one of the newest and best technologies both in Russia and across the world.
The second unique unit is located at the site of wastewater treatment facilities. It is designed for the treatment of stormwater runoff, which comes here from all across the COGCF via special pipelines, accumulates in tanks, and is then sent to be treated and neutralized by UV lamps.
- In December 2020, the facilities of the second phase were put into operation at Chayandinskoye. Will something else be launched under the project?
The Chayandinskoye field is now in the development stage, and there are still things to be done there. In the coming years, we will continue our active participation in its infrastructure development. For instance, three GCUs that will make up compressor workshop No. 2 of the central booster compressor station (CBCS) are planned to be launched at comprehensive gas treatment unit No. 3 in 2022. This is required to receive gas from the Kovyktinskoye field. It is planned to put GPTU-4 and 11 pads of gas well clusters into operation at the Chayandinskoye field in 2023. In 2024, two more gas compressor units will be launched at the CBCS of CGTU-3 and six pads of gas well clusters will be built. All this will allow the Chayandinskoye field to reach its full design capacity.
- What new engineering solutions were implemented at the production sites of Gazprom Dobycha Noyabrsk in 2020, and what was the result?
Searching for the best possible solutions is a never-ending process in gas production. At the production sites of Yamal, we implement innovations to increase the operational efficiency of difficult gas wells. For that purpose, we install concentric tubings (CTs) in such wells. The technology is as follows: an existing well is equipped with a double-wall tubing. A tube of a smaller diameter (central tube) is inserted into a tube of a larger diameter (main tube). The well is operated using two tubes simultaneously. When it is required to remove fluid from the bottomhole, the main tube is shut off. This way, we are able to extend the life of the well and increase cumulative gas production.
At the moment, two wells at the Gubkinsky production site and 10 wells at the Komsomolsky production site are equipped with CTs and put into pilot operation. Specialists can already note the proven efficiency of the measures taken, as the wells have reached a stable production rate.
The use of concentric tubings for the operation of gas wells with liquid loading is a promising technological solution. This method makes it possible to operate wells in optimal modes, extends the period of sustainable operation of wells, and eliminates the need for blowdowns. It also results in a production gain at brownfields.
These activities are being carried out as part of the project for the technical upgrade of gas well piping, which is being implemented at the facility. The project will go on. For instance, CTs are to be installed in three wells at the Komsomolsky gas production site in 2021, and also in the wells of the Yety-Purovskoye and Zapadno-Tarkosalinskoye fields in 2022.
Another important project has been implemented at the Vyngayakhinsky gas production site. After the equipment and automated systems had been tested, the booster compressor station of the Yety-Purovskoye field was put into operation in late 2020. A distinguishing feature of the engineering complex built at Yety-Purovskoye is the use of low-noise and eco-friendly electrically driven gas compressor units (EDGCUs) instead of usual marine or aero ones. While gas turbine engines run on fuel gas, EDGCUs are powered by electricity, thus causing zero air emissions.
Lightly manned operations are employed at the booster compressor station (BCS) of the Yety-Purovskoye field. For instance, it has two control boards, with the main board located at the BCS and the auxiliary board installed at the Vyngayakhinsky gas production site. It provides remote access to control the processes going on at the station. Our newly gained experience can further be applied at the Chayandinskoye field. The use of EDGCUs at gas pre-treatment units is being considered as an option there as well.
- In 2020, you managed to increase the number of booster facilities not only at Vyngayakhinskoye, but also at the gas fields in the Kamchatka Territory. What are the other targets of the company with regard to that region?
In Kamchatka, we will continue implementing the design solutions aimed at ensuring the target gas production volumes. At the Kshukskoye field, where a BCS was put into operation in November 2020, we plan to build two wells – prospecting & appraisal well No. 72 and exploration well No. 71 – before 2026. At the Nizhne-Kvakchikskoye field, Stage 1 of its BCS was put into operation in December 2020, the renovation of the comprehensive gas treatment unit and gas gathering system was completed, and Stage 2 of the BCS is slated to be launched by 2022.
In the near future, we plan to carry out geological exploration to look into the potential of five licensed blocks. 3D seismic surveys in field conditions will continue, and then, based on the results of geophysical studies, we are going to build prospecting & appraisal wells.
- What methods are used to extend the life of the fields that are nearing the end stage of their development?
New technologies and solutions are required to continue the development and operation of such fields, given their hydrocarbon production decline and low formation pressure. And we actively perform the activities required: in addition to the CT technology, there is another innovative solution for increasing the recovery efficiency that we will test this year, namely, a mechanical method of operation to be applied at wells with liquid loading that allows trapped gas to be used in field development. A pilot project is already being implemented at a well of the Tarkosalinsky gas production site.
We have also successfully implemented a project for the introduction of compact compressor assemblies (CCAs) at the Vyngapurovsky gas production site; it was a pilot project for Gazprom. The installation of CCAs in the gas gathering system of a field allows extending the life of the field and its wells. The technology created on the basis of our knowledge and practice proved efficient during its pilot use at Vyngapurovsky. Other production sites of the company will use this experience, too. For instance, we plan to install five CCAs at the Zapadno-Tarkosalinskoye field in 2026–2027. At the Komsomolsky gas production site, CCAs will be installed as early as in 2024. Searching for new technical solutions and implementing them is a never-ending process which, in my opinion, is crucial to the development and stability of а company.