Russia’s Gazprom wants to build manmade islands for Arctic drilling, but will it clean up when it’s done?

The Kharasaveyskoye field in the Russian Arctic. (Gazprom)
Gazprom wants to build islands on shallow Arctic waters for well drilling, but argues that it will be too difficult to do the cleanup.

The powerful natural gas company has addressed the Russian government with a request to amend legislation on drilling in offshore waters. The changes are needed for the company to successfully operate in the shallow waters around the Yamal Peninsula, Deputy CEO Valery Golubyev makes clear in a letter, newspaper Vedomosti reports.

According to Gazprom, the waters around the Arctic peninsula are shallow to the extent that it is impossible to operate with floating offshore drilling rigs.

The company already has the government’s permission to build artificial islands for the exploration drilling operations. However, the license terms also includes the removal of the islands after the well drilling. That is what Gazprom now wants to change.

“Considering the complicated hydro-geological conditions, it is technically difficult to move 650,000 cubic meters of sand from the waters and onto the shore”, Gazprom says in the letter addressed to Deputy Premier Aleksey Gordeev.

The company argues that it should be allowed to leave the sand at site of the offshore drilling.

Question gains relevance with drilling expansion

The question raised by the state national gas company gains increasing relevance as drilling in and around the Yamal Peninsula is on a rapid increase. Gazprom will over the next few years develop at least two major fields located along the Yamal coast. The company in July informed that it in 2019 will start construction works at the Kharasavey field and that production will start in 2023. That includes the laying of a 100 km long pipeline to Bovanenkovo, the nearby field and infrastructure hub.

Map of Gazprom’s pipelines and fields in the Yamal Peninsula. (Gazprom)

The Kharasavey holds 2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, and production will amount to 32 billion cubic meters per year. Parts of the field are located offshore in the Kara Sea.

Another upcoming project is the Kruzenshternskoye field. Also this license area covers both land and offshore areas.

The Kruzenshternsky license area is located on the western shore of the Yamal peninsula, not far from Bovanenkovo, the huge gas field which has been in production since year 2012. The Kruzenshternsky field holds an estimated 965 billion cubic meters of category C1 gas and is located partly offshore in the Kara Sea.

A part of the field development plan is the building of an artificial island from where production can take place. Construction of the island will start “in the very near perspective”, Deputy Head of Gazprom Geologorazvedka Nail Giniyatullin said in connection with the erection of a field monument on site in 2016.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada ill-prepared for Arctic shipping boom, G7 sustainability summit hears, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Haunted by Talvivaara Mining’s crimes, locals in eastern Finland rise against mine proposal, Yle News

Norway: Norwegian supply ships support drilling activities in Russian Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: LNG exports from Russian Arctic rely on European ports despite Northern Sea Route, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden breaks ground on test plant for fossil-free steel production, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Opponents skeptical as U.S. Gov claims seismic survey will have “insignificant” impact in ANWR, Alaska Public Media

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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