Gas is brought to Kamchatka
September 29, 2010
The Kamchatka Peninsula is a unique region. It is the easternmost Russia’s region. Being washed by the Sea of Okhotsk from the west and the Pacific Ocean from the east the Peninsula attracts a lot of tourists coming here for fishing. This is the land of glaciers and volcanoes, rivers and lakes with the famous Valley of Geysers. The nature of Kamchatka still remains almost intact.
Over 340 thousand people live in Kamchatka today. The seclusion of the Peninsula has not provided solely benefit to them. The energy delivery problem has been a really sensitive issue for the population over many years now – the power generation sector has been contingent on the energy carriers delivered from beyond the region, primarily on fuel oil. September 29, 2010 saw the event the people in the Peninsula had been waiting for decades – the Sobolevo – Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky gas trunkline commissioning marked the first natural gas supplies to Kamchatka.
How it all began
Natural gas reserves onshore Kamchatka are relatively small: four gas and condensate fields were discovered on the west coast back in the 1980s – Kshukskoye, Nizhne-Kvakchikskoye, Sredne-Kunzhinskoye and Severo-Kolpakovskoye – with explored C1 reserves totaling some 16 billion cubic meters.
In 1996 the Russian Government endorsed the regional program for conversion of the Kamchatka Krai power supply to local fuels and renewable energy sources with the Kamchatgazprom company established in 1998 to implement the regional gas supply project. It was vested with a function to produce and convey gas. The licenses for gas and condensate fields development were transferred into the company’s ownership as well.
Regional authorities were planning to lay the gas pipeline to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky with its 90 per cent of the Kamchatka population as far back as in 2003 thus finishing the Peninsula gasification project. But organizational problems delayed the full-scale gas supplies for several years. Gas penetration in the Krai was below 1 per cent until recently – nothing more than some 9 million cubic meters of natural gas were delivered from the Kshukskoye field to two settlements – Sobolevo and Ustyevoye, located on the Peninsula’s west coast.
No sooner than in 2007 the project got the second chance – the Russian Government adopted a resolution to involve Gazprom in its implementation. As part of the Gas Supply to the Kamchatka Oblast, Phase 1. Gas Supply to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky project, the Company started pre-development of the Kshukskoye and Nizhne-Kvakchikskoye fields on the west coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula and construction of the Sobolevo – Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky gas trunkline.
The 392 kilometer long pipeline crosses the rugged and variform terrain. Running through tundra, the gas trunkline starts on the west coast of Kamchatka, passes over the mountains – the Sredinny Ridge with its branches, and then crosses a plain area in the vicinity of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
The gas pipeline route came across waterlogged valleys, tumultuous rivers and mountains. Therefore, its construction required special technologies. The gas pipeline features a total of 500 water crossings.
Several cable-stayed crossings were constructed for this facility as well. The pipe is supported by cables strained from the banks. Before laying the pipe over the river and staying cables it was first necessary to construct cribbings that were removed later on. Special machinery, known as pile hammer, was used to install pile trestle on the river banks. Using this equipment the form support is sunk and filled with concrete. In particular, such supports, rising up to four meters, are installed on the Kol and Kolyanka rivers and capable to bear a locomotive running across the river.
High seismic activity of Kamchatka required special engineering solutions to be found during the gas pipeline construction – 30 of 160 volcanoes of the Peninsula are known to be active. Therefore, in a number of crossings gas pipeline supports are not rigidly connected to it. In case of seismic activity these hinged supports are capable of declining aside within the designed angle while the gas pipeline will remain immovable.
During the pipeline construction special attention was paid to preserving regional fish resources. In order to eliminate the adverse impact on salmon fishes spawning, bridges were built before the spawning period for all the rivers crossing the pipeline route.
Construction operations were complicated with the fact that the gas pipeline route runs across the Kol River wildlife area where the construction workers saw bears many times. In Kamchatka, there is one of the largest bear populations numbering to 8–9 thousand. The predators living here are featured with a large body weighing 600 kilos. However, it was difficult not only to evade bears but to meet the stringent construction requirements.
Thus, before the construction startup it was necessary to perform the state environmental appraisal of the project, obtain permissions to discharge air pollutants and wastewater, as well as define limits for industrial and consumer waste disposal. The wildlife area is prohibited for wastewater discharge, even in case purified, therefore it was necessary to hand all waste over to specialized companies that hold the respective licenses.
Meanwhile, the boundaries of the allowed construction site were precisely defined. Within the wildlife area the site could not be larger than 15 meters wide, 9 meters – for the roadway, all the rest – for pipes and cargoes stockpiling. Such stringent requirements allowed to preserve the integrity of the vegetative ground cover and minimize the adverse impact on the indigenous ecosystems.
The wildlife area forest was cut only in the locations designed for the pipe laying along the roadway. Meanwhile, all wood was either sold to consumers or buried in case of no demand – wood firing was strictly banned.
Lichen was a biological indicator of the environmental conditions – some species are sensitive to air pollution and even in case of minor changes they slow down growth and shrink spread. Such an ecological monitoring method – lichen indication – is a reliable and cost-saving means of assessing the environmental impact.
Gazprom is sure that the gas pipeline construction has not injured the unique nature of the Peninsula. Moreover, in the result of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky gasification, air pollutants emission will be reduced by one-fourth.
Bringing gas to every home!
The key industrial gas consumers in the Kamchatka Krai are CHPP-2 and CHPP-1 in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky owned by Kamchatskenergo. At present, the power plants are primarily fired with coal and fuel oil. Gas supply to the power plants will reduce heat and energy generation costs, enhance the stability of their delivery to consumers in the Krai, as well as enable reconstruction and upgrading of heat generating capacities.
It is expected that Kamchatka’s CHPP-2 will be converted to gas before the end of 2010. So far, two heat generation units have been converted from fuel oil to gas, another one will be converted before the year end. The power plant will be fed with gas from the Kshukskoye field with its projected capacity of 175 million cubic meters per year.
In addition, the Nizhne-Kvakchikskoye field commissioning will allow CHPP-1 conversion to gas. The field could produce up to 575 million cubic meters of gas a year. Thus, by 2013, once it is commissioned, the annual gas production capacity of the Peninsula may rise to 750 million cubic meters. The bulk of social facilities could be gasified in Kamchatka by 2014.
Taking part in the celebrations dedicated to the gas pipeline commissioning Russian President Dmitry Medvedev noted that gas should be brought to every home in Kamchatka. He tasked the Russian Government, Gazprom and the Kamchatka Krai leadership to elaborate in a month an optimal gas supply scheme. “We’ll bring gas to every home”, said the President.