First Yamal Oil Shipped from Arctic Gate
Year-round shipments of Yamal oil have begun from the Arctic Gate (Vorota Arktiki), an Arctic oil loading terminal in Russia.
The Novoportovskoye oil, gas and condensate field is located in the southeastern part of the Yamal Peninsula, 250 kilometers (150 miles) north of Nadym and 30 kilometers (20 miles) away from the Ob Bay coast. It holds over 250 million tons of liquid hydrocarbons in recoverable C1+C2 reserves. Gazprom Neft is the field operator.
The field holds the richest in oil reserves in the Yamal Peninsula but is located 700 kilometers (430 miles) away from the existing pipeline infrastructure, so it was decided to ship Yamal oil by sea – a first in the history of Russia's oil and gas industry.
A 100-kilometer (60 mile) pipeline long transports oil from the Novoportovskoye field to the Ob Bay coast. The bay's ship channel with a depth of 11 meters (36 feet) is too shallow for ship traffic, which is why the oil loading terminal was placed in the sea, 3.5 kilometers (2.1 miles) offshore. The annual capacity of the oil transshipment terminal is up to 8.5 million tons. The terminal ensures a year-round loading of tankers with Yamal oil for further shipments via the Northern Sea Route.
The Arctic Gate offshore oil terminal is designed to operate under extreme natural and climatic conditions, as temperatures in the region can drop below minus 50 degrees Celsius and ice can grow over two meters thick. The terminal's equipment is fully automated and protected from hydraulic shocks. A special system allows for prompt undocking without depressurizing the units undergoing disconnection, and zero discharge technology prevents foreign substances from getting into the Ob Bay. Additionally, the subsea pipeline that connects the terminal to the coastal tank battery is protected with an additional concrete shell.
The initial development project has been underway for four years and is planned to extract 6.3 million tons of feedstock from the field by 2018. A plan for further field development will be outlined before late 2017.
“Gazprom is systematically exploring the Russian Arctic. We are successfully extracting oil from the Prirazlomnoye field, Russia's only hydrocarbon production project on the Arctic shelf. A one-of-a-kind gas production center in the Yamal Peninsula is in full swing. Today, we are creating a new oil province on top of the gas center. We have opened the Arctic Gate to deliver Yamal oil to European consumers via the Northern Sea Route all year round,” said Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee.
Earlier this month, Gazprom Neft launched the Shturman Malygin — the second of six Arc7-class tankers built to ensure the year-round shipment of oil from the field. The vessel’s total cargo capacity is approximately 38,000 tons of oil — more than twice the Arc5-class tankers currently in use. The vessel has been designed for the climatic conditions of the Arctic and the shallow waters of the Gulf of Ob. The maximum draught of the new tanker in freshwater is 9.5 meters (31 feet). The vessel’s width and length match those of tankers with a loading capacity twice as high.
In contrast to Arc5-class tankers, the Shturman Malygin can move independently along channels previously cut by nuclear icebreakers. The hull of the tanker has been built with high-tensile tempered steel, with extra-thick walls. The vessel is equipped with bow-loading equipment, allowing it to be anchored to receive oil from the Arctic Gate terminal.
Unaccompanied by an icebreaker the vessel can, independently, negotiate ice up to 1.8 meters thick at its stern, and up to 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) thick at the bow. The tanker is equipped with a steerable propulsion unit, able to perform a 360-turn on its axis, giving it additional maneuverability in moving both forward and aft.
The tanker is named after the Russian maritime and polar explorer Stepan Gavrilovich Malygin, who in early 1736 led the western detachment of the Great Northern Expedition, charged with investigating the Gulf of Ob. The name Malygin is also given to the straits separating the Bely Island from the Yamal Peninsula, its northernmost headland, and the passage and anchorage point on the northern coast of the Yamal Peninsula.