Gazprom moves closer to Sakhalinians
March 22, 2011
The Sakhalin Oblast has recently seen commissioning of the top-priority gas supply and gasification facilities to initiate natural gas deliveries to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, thus tackling the environmental challenges in the city.
Sakhalin has long been one of the largest gas producing centers in Russia’s Far East. The world’s leading energy companies like ExxonMobil, Shell and Gazprom operate on the island developing the largest fields offshore Sakhalin: Chaivo (Sakhalin I project), Piltun-Astokhskoye and Lunskoye (Sakhalin II project). However, Sakhalinians obtained almost no benefits from the development of their fields until recently.
Combined heat and power plant (CHPP-1) supplying residents of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk – the largest city on the island – with heat and power was using coal. The plant is located within the city and used to cover Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk with brown smoke almost every day with ash dumps permanently growing around the CHPP. Any more or less strong sea-breeze was blowing acrid ash dust all over the city. These facts allowed environmental organizations putting a relatively small city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk with no large-scale industrial production on the list of the ten most polluted Russian cities and towns.
On Saturday Gazprom connected CHPP-1 to the gas distribution network. Upon conversion of all power generating units at the plant to gas the problem of coal emissions will be solved.
It is well known that natural gas is the most eco-friendly fuel. Burning natural gas produces far less carbon oxide emissions than coal and absolutely no emissions of vanadium oxide, sulfur dioxide, inorganic dust or ash contaminants. That inspires hope in the citizens that Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk will delight them with the blue sky more often.
CHPP-1 is a top-priority gasification facility of Sakhalin. The plant will annually consume some 650 million cubic meters of gas. In order to convey gas to the plant, Gazprom built the Dalneye gas distribution station (GDS), a gas lateral from the Southern product transfer point of the Sakhalin II project to the Dalneye GDS as well as an inter-settlement gas pipeline stretching for some 9 kilometers from the Dalneye GDS to CHPP-1. During two years Gazprom invested RUB 620 million to construct this system.
New Year celebrations
The CHPP-1 startup ceremony was very festive and resembled New Year celebrations a little bit. Preparations began a few days before the event. The guests could stay in white half-round tents raised on site of the Dalneye GDS and somehow reminded of the Evenki tents. A stage decorated with white and blue balloons rose in the central part of the site. The site itself was covered with small white gravel matching the color of tents. The GDS flare was glowing at some distance.
The celebrations were to take place at sunset. But due to the shift in the working schedule of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who was going to attend the ceremony, the celebrations were deferred to late evening. So then at midnight as if under the New Year chime of bells the Prime Minister’s cortege solemnly entered the Dalneye GDS site to congratulate Sakhalinians on the launch of the eco-friendly power plant. The feeling of a January holiday got even stronger as the sky was suddenly covered with clouds, a cold and frosty wind started blowing with large snowflakes falling on the site.
In his opening speech Vladimir Putin highlighted social importance of the event. “We start a new phase of operations in Sakhalin making our citizens, Sakhalinians, the centerpiece of these plans. Gas deliveries from one of the largest fields in Sakhalin will be initiated with the implementation of these plans and the gas transmission system has reached the key energy facility, CHPP-1,” he said.
He stressed that it would not merely boost power generation, but mitigate the environmental impact as well. “Gradually, but quite fast, in a year or two, almost all power generating units at CHPP-1 will be converted from coal to a new fuel, gas, which is an important event for the city in view of a significant environmental impact made on Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk by this coal-fired power plant. New additional facilities will be created both for production development and for heat and power supply to the apartments,” Prime Minister noted.
After these words Vladimir Putin pushed a symbolic button to feed gas to the network. Orange and violet flame of the flare sailed into the black sky in a second. Having finished his speech, Vladimir Putin came up to the gas pipeline and by a long-standing tradition put his signature on it near the inscription “Gas to Sakhalin!”.
CHPP-1 is just a beginning
The weather got absolutely nasty. A squally wind was shaking posters, tearing sheets from the journalists’ notebooks and throwing prickly snow in the faces of those present. Therefore, the guests sheltered in the tent. There were banners about the Company’s operations in Sakhalin and an almost two meter long map of the Far East in the tent. Alexander Ananenkov, Deputy Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee led the Prime Minister to the map and informed him in details about the challenges to be faced by the Company in Sakhalin and the Far East.
He pointed out that Gazprom had almost doubled the Kirinskoye field reserves to 136 billion cubic meters over two years of operation. The annual production from this field will amount to some 4.2 billion cubic meters of gas. According to Alexander Ananenkov, this gas will be primarily used for the domestic market needs since it is expected that by 2015 the Sakhalin Oblast alone will show a triple increase in gas demand to 1.5 billion cubic meters. Gazprom is already constructing an inter-settlement gas pipeline from the Dalneye GDS to the Novo-Alexandrovsk settlement and developing front-end engineering design for construction of an inter-settlement gas pipeline from Novo-Alexandrovsk to the settlements of Klyuchi, Sinegorsk, Sanatornoye.
Besides Sakhalin, gas will be conveyed to other regions of the Far East with growing consumption as well. In the Khabarovsk Krai it will rise to 4.4 billion cubic meters of gas a year, in Primorsky Krai – to 6.3 billion cubic meters and in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast – to 0.5 billion cubic meters.
It looks like Vladimir Putin was satisfied and left the GDS site wishing it good luck.
Most probably, all the residents of Sakhalin will also be satisfied, even, curiously enough, Sakhalinugol – the coal supplier for CHPP-1 – that was exempted from its social burden. Therefore, from now on this company may implement its plan on building up coal export from Sakhalin to Asia-Pacific countries.