Power of Yamal

April 30, 2013

Today we publish the second part of the photo essay of our Yamal Peninsula trip to give you an insight of gasmen work and living at the Bovanenkovo field Be advised that the first part of the photo essay (“Yamal Express”, April 1, 2013) was dedicated to the Obskaya – Bovanenkovo railway.

The Bovanenkovo field or Bovanenkovo (a short form of its name) is the largest gas and condensate field in the Yamal Peninsula. It is situated in the eastern part of the Peninsula, 40 kilometers away from the Kara Sea. The reserves of the field amount to some 5 trillion cubic meters.

Commercial development of Bovanenkovo will yield up to 115 billion cubic meters a year by 2017. It comes to about one sixth of the total Russian natural gas produced in 2012, a quarter of the total gas produced by Gazprom and a quarter of annual gas consumption in Russia.

Eventually, the annual design capacity of the field may be increased to 140 billion cubic meters of gas. At present, the design capacity of Bovanenkovo equals 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

Currently, about 600 gasmen are involved in hydrocarbons production and processing (in the future the number of the personnel will exceed 1,800 and reach 3,000 including employees of service companies). Moreover, nearly 5,000 contract workers are busy with constructing field and camp infrastructure. They arrange new gas producing sites.

Gasmen, similar to Gazprom Trans’ employees who carried us to the field by train, work on a shift basis. The picture above shows recurrent shift leaving the field.

Working for the whole month long with no days off is the peculiarity of such a schedule (versus an ordinary one). Moreover, a shift lasts 12 hours instead of 8.

Harsh climate makes the work even more complicated. The Yamal winter lasts for 8–9 months. Biting frosts are accompanied by fitful wind, snowfalls, blizzards and a short daylight time.

Automatic equipment facilitates working in the mentioned conditions. It enables monitoring all the field processes – from production to recovery of conditioned gas – via computers.

Timur Abdrakimov, process compressor operator and Evgeny Popov, oil and gas production operator, carefully monitor each process.

Their workstation – site No.2 control board – resembles a space operations center.

The monitors display pipeline branches supplying gas to the site and the particular processing stage. Special attention is paid to the equipment status. In case of malfunctioning the control board immediately alarms.

Such an approach enables using nearly unmanned technologies at the field. But even the most reliable equipment cannot run without monitoring.

Vladimir Ulyanov, production foreman, every day comes to the well cluster to check the well pressure and the snow level. If the valves are covered with snow, they require clearing.

Gas is supplied from the field to the site, where it’s subject to admixtures removal to make it fit for consumers.

First, gas comes to the gathering station and input separators. There it’s subject to pre-treatment. This stage is mainly serves for removing sand, water and clay out of hydrocarbons.

Pre-treated gas is delivered to the process hall No.1 then. There it’s cooled down to 30°C below zero and moved to another hall for final treatment.

Cooling is extremely important stage for further gas treatment, mainly, for removing water which is difficult to separate at once. Being exposed to low temperature, water freezes and, turning into ice, is easily extracted from fuel.

Refined gas is delivered to a booster compressor station where “blue fuel” is pressurized before supplying to consumers.

Each hall is controlled by a person in charge. Yan Yablonsky, C&I engineer, is in charge for two halls: the input separators hall and the process separators one. He examines the premises for ingress of gas and leakages, as well as verifies instrument readings.

Bovanenkovo is one of the largest gas fields in the world. Currently, gas is supplied from the field to site No.2 through 14 pipelines. But one more unit of site No.2 is planned to be commissioned as early as the second quarter of 2013. This will allow increasing the input pipeline number to 22.

New site No.1 (annual capacity of 30 billion cubic meters of gas) is scheduled for commissioning in 18 months. Before 2018 it’s planned to put into operation site No.3. It will provide the additional production of some 30 billion cubic meters of gas.

775 wells of the field will be producing gas by that time. There are about 150 production wells at the field now.

Shift camp is situated several kilometers away from the gas production and treatment site. Bringing gasmen from the shift camp to the site is provided by truck drivers. The whole crew of drivers works at Bovanenkovo.

Alexander Dyakov, driver, similar to his colleagues, is responsible for staff carriage. He drives workers to the sites and well clusters, and back. It’s impossible to get to the site on foot because of biting frost and wind: for instance, site No.2 lies 13.5 kilometers away from the shift camp.

350 kilometers was the maximum distance Alexander had to cover behind the wheel in the permafrost surroundings. At that time he was escorting methanol cargo from the site to the freight terminal.

Traffic police keeps an eye on drivers’ work. Though embanked road features no marking and usual abundance of road signs, traffic rules are similar to those of the mainland.

Remoteness of the field forced construction of standalone infrastructure for producing sites. The auxiliary power plant converts gas energy into electricity.

The power supply service headed by Victor Kuzmenko, senior foreman, is responsible for power generation and supply.

Power generation, similar to gas production, is fully automated process at Bovanenkovo. Every process is displayed on the control board and monitored by Oleg Yavorsky, Evgeny Fialka and Sergey Malykhin, gas turbine unit operators.

The shift camp is provided with in-house potable water supplied, under control of Valery Fedorin, senior foreman of the power and water supply service, from the local lake to the water system of the Bovanenkovo field.

The airport plays an important part in the field operation. Until recently, it was a small heliport.

Alexander Biba, personnel carriage service dispatcher, has been managing helicopter traffic between the Peninsula and the mainland since the first Bovanenkovo wells were bored. At that time he had to work and live in a small trailer. Today he’s provided with his own room. A passenger terminal and a runway were arranged as well.

Nowadays, both helicopters and small planes may land at the Bovanenkovo airport.

The air traffic is arranged for five basic directions: Vorkuta, Nadym, Sabetta, Medvezhye and Kharasavey. From time to time the airport hosts helicopters from Salekhard and Labytnangi. The flight from Bovanenkovo to the mainland takes 4 hours on average. But there is no tight schedule of flights due to unstable weather. Sometimes the flights were delayed for three days.

Up to 22 helicopters may land and take off at the airport in fair weather. The dispatchers’ work is complicated by the fact that all these aircrafts arrive during 2–3 hours instead of the whole day. It’s resulted from short daylight time and the weather which mostly goes bad in the mornings and evenings.

During this short period the airport staff has to unload just-landed helicopter, refuel it, load it up and send back.

The Bovanenkovo infrastructure enables not only minerals extraction, but comfortable living for personnel. There are food stores, a cafe and a canteen within the residential area. Those who would prefer to cook by themselves can do so in the kitchens. There are amenity rooms equipped with TV’s and billiards. But talking to colleagues or playing board games, which they take along, are the most popular pastime for shift workers.

And as to the gym and therapeutic rooms – they are never empty. The shift workers can choose among massage, baths and speleochambers. The last ones are in great demand here. According to the therapists, 15 minutes spent in a ‘salt room’ daily are enough for normalizing blood pressure and feeling better.

The shift camp health care division is equipped with all essential facilities and complete with experienced practitioners capable to help people at any time. Dentist has no end of patients. It’s not possible to make an appointment with the dentist Yury Savchenko till the next shift starts.

Finally, we would like to present a few thumbnails of the field workers. Vladislav Drobotov, C&I engineer.

Denis Shcherbakov, C&I engineer.

Mikhail Tolmachev, acting Deputy Head of the Production Dispatch Service.

Alexander Bochkovsky, plumber.

Kamil Makhmutov, Head of the Yamal Gas Production Directorate.

That’s the way people work and live at the Bovanenkovo field. We would like to thank everybody who helped us in arranging our one-week “shift” at the most modern Russian gas producing field. Now it’s time for us to travel back to the mainland, and the Bovanenkovo residents meanwhile proceed with their mission – to ensure uninterrupted supplies of “blue fuel” to the numerous consumers.

And just before saying goodbye, we would like to tell you a little bit about our plans for this year. In the coming months we will present you a photo essay about Gazprom Avia our aviation enterprise, in autumn we are going to visit the Chayandinskoye field and the Sakhalin – Khabarovsk – Vladivostok gas pipeline and later this year we are going to publish a report about healthcare personnel of Gazprom.

Gazprom website Editorial Board

You can find large size images in Photos.