Climate change could jeopardize Yamal gas development, the Kremlin fears

The Yamal Peninsula accounts for the lion's share of Russia's Arctic natural gas reserves. (
The Yamal Peninsula accounts for the lion’s share of Russia’s Arctic natural gas reserves. (
“We have 20 trillion cubic meters of Arctic natural gas available, let’s get it developed before it is too late.”

In a meeting with President Vladimir Putin last week, Minister of Natural Resources Sergey Donskoy called for special measures on the development of the country’s huge gas reserves in Yamal.

“The unique concentration of these resources requires special measures aimed at stimulation and well-timed development,” the minister told Putin, according to the transcript of the meeting.

The timing is the essence, Donskoy stressed.

“The way we see it, Russia simply risks not being able to take advantage of this potential in time,” he said.

The Yamal Peninsula and surrounding areas hold Russia’s biggest gas resources.

According to Donskoy, there are 20 trillion cubic meters of known reserves in the Russian Arctic, and the lion’s share of it is located in Yamal. Donskoy called for new measures to facilitate licensing, field development and construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) production and transportation infrastructure, as well as greater diversification of natural gas use.

“Vladimir Vladimirovich, we request you to instruct the government to work on this issue,” Donskoy told Putin.

The effects of climate change could be devastating for the Yamal Peninsula. Higher temperatures in the area will accelerate melting of permafrost and consequently threaten local infrastructure. In addition, a higher sea level will ultimately put the flat peninsula under water.

Several of Russia’s major petroleum companies have over the last years invested big sums in Yamal field development. Gazprom in 2012 launched its Bovanenkovo field. In 2017, Novatek is due to launch its Yamal LNG plant.

A number of new licenses are issued to both companies. In early September this year, Novatek won the license to the Syadorsky project, an area located in the northern part of the peninsula, not far from its South Tambey field. In June, the company got another three licenses in the nearby Gydan peninsula, the company informs.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Energy challenges in Canada’s North, Eye on the Arctic

Finland:  Chinese energy giant plans €1bn biofuel plant in northern Finland, Yle News

Norway: OMV finds more oil in Barents Sea, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia:  Chinese mega-deals in Yamal LNG, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden:  Will Sweden be able to produce enough energy in the future?, Radio Sweden

United States: Obama, Trudeau announce plans to fight Arctic oil and gas pollution; Alaskans criticize lack of input, Alaska Dispatch News

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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