Assessment of demand for production platforms for projects on Russian arctic shelf until 2020 Печать E-mail


Most of the existing offshore projects have not yet entered the production phase. Of more than 40 offshore oil and gas projects:

• production is underway only in 3 projects: Odoptu-More (Northern Dome), Sakhalin-2 (Sea of Okhotsk), and Kravtsovskoye (Baltic Sea);
• production in 2 other projects, Sakhalin-1 (Sea of Okhotsk) and Prirazlomnoye (southeastern Barents Sea), is to be launched by yearend 2005;
• production of hydrocarbons in other projects will likely begin during a period spanning 2006 - 2020. Borders of license blocks have been determined for most of these projects, hydrocarbons prospecting and exploration licenses have been awarded to some of the projects and exploratory works are already underway.

With the perspective projects on track, the following areas will emerge as production centers on Russia's shelf during the period until 2020:
Sea of Okhotsk;
? Kara Sea:
? Barents Sea;
? Caspian Sea.

At present, these seas account for a total of 99% of Russia's explored offshore hydrocarbon reserves, and for 84% of offshore hydrocarbon resources, and according to forecasts, by 2015-2020 these areas will account for 97% of all offshore oil and gas production-Given this potential and prospects, demand for offshore drilling units and production platforms that meet production specificity of these regions will grow. Demand is projected to begin glowing as early as the next 5-7 years when, under a moderately optimistic scenario, most projects will enter the phase of exploratory drilling and construction of production complexes in line with technological solutions chosen.

For that reason Russian offshore projects will emerge a one of the most dynamically progressing market segment for offshore equipment manufacturers and services providers.

Demand for a specific type of offshore drilling units or production platforms will be determined by:

? external conditions (the most crucial criteria on the Russian shelf are ice conditions and sea depth);
? projects specifics (drilling depth and projected production volumes being the most important parameters).

Since the Sea of Okhotsk, Kara Sea, the Barents and Caspian Seas (with the exception of the southern portion of the Russian sector) freeze during winter, production platforms and drilling units operated in these areas must have substantial ice-resistance properties. Climate is especially harsh in the eastern portion of the Barents and Kara Seas where the ice-free season may span merely 2-3 months per year-Distribution of initial combined hydrocarbon resources by depth in the principal offshore oil- and gas-bearing regions indicates that:

? around 30% initial combined hydrocarbon resources occur at depths of up to 50 m;
? around 50% — at depths of up to 100 m;
? around 90% -- at depths of up to 300 m.

For that reason, the type of equipment that offshore operators will need more than any other chilling rigs or production platforms will be jack-up drilling rigs, while production will largely depend on offshore ice-resistant fixed platforms. Significantly, projects underway in the Barents Sea (Shtokman field) and in the Caspian Sea (Yalama-Sumbursky block) already require the use of floating offshore production units.

As at mid-2006, production platforms in Russia totaled 6: two platforms were on stream producing oil, while the other four were under construction.
All platforms producing oil were built in the second half of 1990s with the involvement of foreign equipment suppliers and services providers. Russian manufacturers have only limited experience of platforms construction. Built during the Soviet period were:

• 3 fixed platforms:
• 13 topsides for fixed platforms.

Production platforms and topsides were intended for oil production in the Caspian Sea (offshore Azerbaijan) and on the shelf off Vietnam (by VietSovpetro JV, South China Sea).
Due to the specificity of Russian shelf, four types of fixed platforms may be employed (jackets platform. Small and Large Gravity Base Platform, Compliant Tower). However, since most aquatic areas in the principal oil- and gas-bearing regions on Russian shelf freeze, producers will require mostly concrete or steel gravity based platforms. According to Russian specialists, the limit for the most powerful gravity based platforms that will be used in the harshest ice conditions is 70-100 meters. In easier conditions the limit is estimated at 150-250 meters.

Regular steel platforms of the jackets type, the most commonly used platforms the world over, may be employed in ice-free aquatic areas (southern Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov) at depths of up to 300 meters.

Today the geography of floating production platforms is limited mostly to ice-free seas. Nevertheless, options involving the use of floating platforms are also considered for the development of the Shtokman field (Barents Sea) because with sea depths at the field ranging between 280 and 360 m, costs involved in the construction of fixed platforms are prohibitive. An innovative mobile platform design combining TLP and Spar technologies and best-suited to the local development conditions (wave, wind and ice load, etc.) has been proposed.

An analysis of the projects implementation pace indicates that under a moderately optimistic scenario demand for production platforms by Russian offshore projects slated for implementation should grow from 4 to 70 units over 2005 - 2020. Demand will likely peak in 2010 - 2015 when the number of platforms should grow 4-5-fold compared to 2005. The following areas will emerge as the centers of demand:

• Barents Sea. where 17-19 platforms are expected to be installed by 2020;
• Kara Sea (including the Ob-Tazov bay) (12-13 platform):
• Sea of Okhotsk (22-23 platforms);
• Caspian Sea (10-11 platforms).



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