World’s biggest helium hub comes onstream
- The first of the Amur GPP’s three helium units is put in operation.
- The second production train of the Amur GPP is launched.
- The hub’s annual capacity exceeds 4,000 operations with helium containers.
The commissioning ceremony for the world’s biggest Logistics Center for the servicing of helium containers (helium hub), which will be used to deliver liquid helium to the global market, took place today via a video link.
Taking part in the event were Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, and Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee.
The demand for helium is strong in high-tech industries and is now on the rise, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
The helium hub, which is located in the Nadezhdinskaya PDA near sea ports in the Primorye Territory, is the key link in the logistics chain of commercial helium supplies from the Amur Gas Processing Plant (GPP). The hub will provide servicing for containers that are sent to the GPP to be filled, arrange logistics operations and carry out acceptance, weight checks and preparation of thermally-insulated containers arriving from the Amur GPP for their further loading onto sea vessels. The containers are designed to maintain the temperature of minus 269 degrees Celsius in order to keep helium in liquid state.
Container transportation services are provided by the in-house vehicle fleet of Gazprom Helium Service, the helium hub operator. KAMAZ-5490 Neo freight trucks, which were specially designed for Gazprom, use air suspension that makes it possible to transport helium safely. The trucks run on eco-friendly liquefied natural gas. The fuel is produced directly onsite at the hub.
The opening of the Logistics Center is synchronized with the gradual increase in the Amur GPP’s capacities. The GPP’s second production train (of six in total) was put in operation the day before. The first of three helium separation, liquefaction and packaging units is now online. The unit has an annual capacity of 20 million cubic meters of helium. The helium production process uses, inter alia, spiral heat exchangers, the production of which was launched for the first time in Russia at a mechanical engineering plant in St. Petersburg.
As soon as the Amur GPP reaches its design capacity, it will produce 60 million cubic meters of helium per year, becoming the global leader in helium production.
“The hub will have the capacity to perform more than 4,000 operations with thermally-insulated containers per year. This is an unprecedented figure, as there are currently only 2,000 thermally-insulated cryogenic containers in the world, which collectively carry all of the helium produced worldwide.
Starting from today, the entire process chain – from producing helium at the Amur Gas Processing Plant to delivering it to consumers – is up and running!” said Alexey Miller.
The Amur GPP, one of the largest plants of its kind in the world, is being built near the town of Svobodny in the Amur Region. The plant receives multi-component gas via the Power of Siberia gas pipeline from the Chayandinskoye field (Yakutia); later on, it will also receive gas from the Kovyktinskoye field (Irkutsk Region). The plant will have a design capacity of 42 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
On June 9, 2021, the commissioning ceremony for the first production train of the Amur GPP was held with the participation of Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation. The implementation of such an ambitious project in the area of gas processing has no parallel in the history of Russia’s gas sector. In 2025, the GPP will reach its full design capacity.
The products of the Amur GPP include sales gas (methane) and the components extracted from this gas, which are valued in the gas chemical and other industries. Operating at full capacity, the GPP will use cutting-edge equipment and state-of-the-art cryogenic technologies to annually produce 2.4 million tons of ethane, 1.5 million tons of liquefied petroleum gases (LPG), and 200,000 tons of pentane-hexane fraction. The primary consumer of the GPP’s ethane and LPG will be the Amur Gas Chemical Complex (a joint project of SIBUR and China’s Sinopec).
Gazprom Pererabotka Blagoveshchensk (part of the Gazprom Group) is the investor, customer, and operator for the Amur GPP. Construction management is carried out by NIPIGAZ (part of the SIBUR Group).