Alexander Ishkov: Energy saving helps Gazprom minimize environmental impact and save billions of rubles as well

Strict adherence to environmental standards is a distinctive feature of the Gazprom activity. At the same time, environmental efforts of a modern energy company can’t be set apart form active implementation of the energy saving technologies. In his interview to the Gazprom website Editorial Board Alexander Ishkov, Deputy Head of the Gas Transportation, Underground Storage and Utilization Department dwelled on the current results of the work performed by Gazprom in this area and the Company’s plans for the years to come.

The Gazprom Energy Saving Concept 2001–2010 and the Gazprom Energy Saving Program 2007–2010 expired in 2010. What efforts does Gazprom take in this regard and under the requirements of the Law on Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency Improvement dated November 29, 2009?

First of all, I will note that Gazprom reached the planned levels envisaged by the corporate documents you have mentioned. Implementation of the programs between 2002 and 2010 under the Concept allowed for fuel and energy resource saving in the amount of 29.8 million tons of fuel equivalent including 25.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas and some 3 billion kWh of electric power which is a very good result. For instance, the comparable amount of gas is annually supplied by Gazprom to Moscow – the major gas consumer among constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

To carry on this activity Gazprom compiled and adopted the Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency Concept 2011–2020 and the Energy Saving Program 2011–2013 in the end of the past year.

The Concept is primarily aimed at maximizing the use of the energy saving potential in any activity and increasing the energy efficiency of the subsidiaries on the basis of the cutting-edge technologies and equipment. The energy saving potential for the nearest decade is estimated at 28.2 million tons of fuel equivalent.

In addition, the Company has elaborated and adopted the Program for Obligatory Energy Inspection of Subsidiary Companies in pursuance of the Law on Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency Improvement. Energy inspections will be carried out in 49 subsidiary companies of Gazprom according to the Law. The energy inspections will allow for more precise determination of the energy saving potential in each subsidiary with the follow-up correction of their activities in this area.

I will highlight another crucial point: starting from 2010 the rules have changed for the front-end engineering and design documents development to construct any process facilities – wells, pipelines, compressor stations, etc. From now on, the front-end engineering and design documents will contain an integral part envisaging full-scale implementation of the energy saving technologies. In other words – the project can’t be accepted if it doesn’t highlight the way to minimize the energy consumption. This practice ensures better control for the up-to-date energy efficient equipment implementation as well as metering devices as early as at the design concept stage.

What are the main objectives and key parameters of the 2011–2013 Energy Saving Program?

Over this period we are planning to save fuel and energy resources in the amount of 6.4 million tons of fuel equivalent with over 5.4 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 459 million kWh of electric power, and 24.7 thousand tons (fuel equivalent) of diesel, boiler and furnace fuels.

The Program implementation requires investing some RUB 5 billion while the resources saved would cost some RUB 12 billion. Therefore, as in previous years the Company will not only minimize the environmental impact but save billions of rubles as well. Notably, speaking about a financial aspect, the key energy saving effect – some 83 per cent – will be produced by the mainline gas transmission.

The primary ways to reduce the energy intensity of gas transmission involve building up the working pressure along with raising the capacity and efficiency of gas compressor units (GCUs). Is the Russian industry quite ready to manufacture these products? How is the Program synchronized with the plans and capacities of the Russian turbine and pipe-rolling plants?

The sci-tech progress is moving on, in mainline gas transmission as well. The most promising way today is to implement high-resistant pipes with smooth interior coating designed for 100–120 atmospheres of working pressure.

These pipes are manufactured at the Izhora Pipe Plant and the Vyksa Steel Works. Moreover, the domestic manufacturers launched the production of fittings for gas pipelines with working pressure of up to 120 atmospheres. The production and delivery schedules fully meet the terms of the trunklines commissioning that will be comprised of these details and pipes: Bovanenkovo – Ukhta (120 atmospheres), Sakhalin – Khabarovsk – Vladivostok, Gryazovets – Vyborg and Ukhta – Torzhok (100 atmospheres).

As for GCUs, today’s production potential of the Russian machine building plants can fully meet the demand of Gazprom for up-to-date units both to construct new gas pipelines and reconstruct the existing compressor stations (CSs). There is a large scope of work – we are planning to reconstruct 433 GCUs during five years.

I will stress that a new generation of gas turbine GCUs, such as Ural, Neva, Volga and Ladoga, has been created on the basis of the Russian plants. The efficiency of these units reaches 32–39 per cent and meets the highest worldwide standards. Not least important is that the average price of these gas compressor units is 25–30 per cent lower comparing to their foreign analogs while the automated control systems of GCUs are almost twice cheaper versus the foreign ones.

However, the prospects for the Gazprom’s gas compressor system development call for introduction of new gas compressor equipment units capable to operate in specific conditions. Unfortunately, the domestic industry is unable to produce them. I am talking about mobile compressor stations and equipment used in the offshore gas pipelines.

Waste gas heat utilization at GCUs is considered as a way to enhance the gas transmission efficiency. Does the program envisage the implementation of such projects?

Certainly. The most wide-spread way to utilize waste gas heat at GCUs is to use waste heat exchangers. 80 per cent of the units operating at line and booster compressor stations of Gazprom’s gas transmission system are equipped with these heat exchangers. There are a total of 2,750 waste heat exchangers with the gross installed capacity of 11.6 thousand MW. The produced heat is used for the needs of the industrial sites at the compressor stations or sometimes supplied to the adjacent small settlements.

In the future we are planning to widely use full-scale waste heat utilization complexes at GCUs with the combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) unit being the centerpiece. These CCGT units produce enough heat for the needs of the CS itself and for commercial deliveries to the adjacent settlements. A similar complex has successfully passed tests in Gazprom transgaz Moscow and currently operates at the Chaplygin compressor station.

We are currently engaged in the feasibility study preparation to implement the waste heat utilization complexes for power production using cyclopentane instead of water. The point is that the emergency or planned shutdown of a GCU requires additional expenses to heat water while the use of cyclopentane gas requires no heat and makes operation of GCUs even more cost effective and flexible with no additional environmental impact risks. We hope that these units will ensure maximum growth in the efficiency of GCUs and, therefore, of the entire gas transmission system. Their first implementation is scheduled for 2014.

What innovative solutions are you going to use for the Gazprom Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency Improvement Programs implementation in 2011–2013?

Full-scale implementation of the energy saving programs in any company today is impossible without using innovative solutions. Gazprom uses them at all stages of the process facilities life cycle: designing, constitution, startup, operation (including repairs), reconstruction and decommissioning.

Thus, for instance, software system optimization complexes have already been created and are used allowing to enhance the efficiency of gas flow planning over the UGSS and to streamline the gas transmission system operation modes. They will account for up to 25 per cent of the total fuel and energy resources to be saved between 2011 and 2013.

We are planning a broader use of microturbine expanders/generators designed for power production at gas distribution stations (GDSs). Their capacity is 20 kW with the current voltage of either 380 or 220 V. The energy source for these generators is free of charge – gas flows in pipelines produced by pressure drawdown. They will be used as the primary or backup source of power supply for GDSs. These generators are currently in successful pilot operation in a number of gas transmission companies.

The development project is being finalized to introduce the unique plants producing methane-hydrogen mixtures to be used as fuel gas for GCUs.

Low energy consuming equipment is used at the linepipes today – means of communications, electrochemical protection, crane drives, etc. To feed this equipment we are planning to use solar and wind energy sources as well as self-contained power supply systems based on Stirling engines (transforming heat into power).

We also give priority to introducing innovative technologies that use so-called secondary resources – mainly waste gases and high temperature process liquids. And certainly we keep abreast of the cutting-edge energy saving technologies development by the domestic producers.