Yamal liquefied natural gas (LNG) envisages the construction of an LNG plant with annual capacity of 16.5 million tonnes per annum based on the feedstock resources of the South-Tambeyskoye field, located near Sabetta in the Yamal peninsula in Russia. The project, developed in three phases, has been declared of national interest by the Russian Government. The first phase is expected to be operational in late 2016, the second phase will be carried out in 2013-17 and the third phase in 2014-18. An investment of $15bn to $20bn is expected to be made in the project.
Novatek* is executing the project through its subsidiary Yamal LNG. It holds 80 percent interest in the project, while Total (which became a partner in the project in October 2011) holds the remaining 20 percent. Novatek has signed an agreement with Gazprom for distribution of the LNG produced. If Yamal peninsula is estimated to hold the largest gas reserves in the world, the region, however, has the toughest working conditions. The land is boggy, making drilling operations a challenge. In the winter season, daylight is available only for a short period during which the majority of the operations need to be carried out. In addition, the area is very remote, with no local workforce available. The nearest potential market is also located 3,000km away. Despite these challenges, several companies are investing in the region to recover the large gas reserves. Novatek and Total are developing another project named Shtokman in the same region.
The South Tambey field was discovered in 1974. In 2010, 2D seismic studies were carried out at the field to understand the geological properties. The field contains 72 commercially viable gas layers, of which 33 are shallow dry gas layers and 28 are deeper gas layers. The depth of these layers varies from 900m to 2,850m. Estimated reserves of the field stand at 44 trillion cubic feet (tcf*) of gas and 550 million barrels of condensate. The proven reserves stand at 1.26tcf of gas and 51.6mt of gas condensate. The Yamal LNG project includes the construction of an LNG plant, a processing facility for gas and condensate treatment, a gas transmission pipeline, well sites, a gas gathering system, a sea port at Sabetta and a fleet of tankers for transportation of the LNG. The LNG processing plant will have a capacity of 15.5mt/y of gas and 1mt/y of condensate. It will include three LNG trains, storage and loading facilities.Due to the extreme climatic conditions in the region, construction of the plant is planned to be carried out through modular methods.
Erection of the facilities for field development presents some challenges due to the permafrost conditions in the region. Due to permafrost, the underground layer of soil stays frozen for at least two years. The layer above it freezes and thaws with change in season. As a result, the infrastructure cannot come in contact with this soil to ensure stability. In such conditions, the infrastructure is usually erected on stilts. A liquefaction technology suitable for these conditions will be chosen for the LNG plant. The LNG loading / unloading tankers will have a deadweight of between 183,000t and 208,000t. They will be of ice-class and be able to operate in the harsh climatic conditions of the Yamal peninsula. Conceptual projection of the tankers is currently being carried out. As many as ten tankers are expected to be built for the project. The tankers will help in transporting the LNG to markets in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific region.
* OAO NOVATEK is Russia’s largest independent gas producer and the second-largest natural gas producer in Russia. Founded in 1994, the company is engaged in the exploration, production, processing and marketing of natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons. The company’s upstream activities are concentrated in the prolific Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Region, which is the world’s largest natural gas producing area and accounts for approximately 90% of Russia’s natural gas production and approximately 17% of the world’s gas production. NOVATEK is an open joint stock company established under the laws of the Russian Federation
* tcf: trillion cubic feet