Economic potential of hydrocarbon resources of the arctic shelf and the problems of its development Печать E-mail

V.I. NAZAROV, L.V. LIST All-Russia Petroleum Scientific Exploration Institute "VNIGRI", Russia

Studying and development of Arctic shelf hydrocarbon resources, making a significant share of all oil and gas potential of Russia's water areas (75 % from total amount of the Russian continental shelf resources), is characterized by specific features which have significant influence on their technical availability and profitability of development. Major of these features are the following:

- severe nature-climatic conditions and difficult ice conditions of the Arctic seas demands creation of special means for searches, exploration and development of sea fields:
- there is no necessary coastal infrastructure in the Arctic regions practically completely. Its creation demands the attraction of multi-billion investments;
- for input of the explored fields in industrial circulation is required the creation of transport system. The most effective way of oil transportation is its tanker export. Taking into account difficult ice conditions of the Arctic water areas, construction of expensive tankers of ice class is necessary. In case of pipeline transport, in consequence of remoteness of the Arctic basins from consumers, the transport system can provide profitable oil and gas transportation only at the certain, economically justified volumes. And in process of increase of the pipeline length the minimally justified volumes of transportation are increased.

The indicated reasons essentially increase the cumulative costs for development of the Arctic water areas resource potential and put forward rigid economic requirements to geological-production characteristics of opening fields of hydrocarbon (he) raw material.

Now it is possible to count, that the searches and exploration of sea oil and gas fields can be carried out successfully practically in any nature-climatic conditions of a shelf. As for exploitation of a significant part of the Arctic seas hydrocarbon fields, the means of its organization in conditions of multimeter on thickness, mobile ice do not exist yet. Therefore the he resources of the Arctic shelf should be divided by the degree of technical availability, and from technically available to allocate that part which can be profitable developed under existing or perspective economic conditions.

On water areas technical availability of resources is determined, first of all, by two factors: depth of the sea and nature-climatic conditions, mainly, ice conditions. Depending on these two factors the means of exploration drilling and field development essentially differ.

Fulfilled in VNIGRI on the basis of generalization of native and foreign publications and the design data the analysis of used and projected means for searches, exploration and development of sea oil and gas fields allows to make following basic conclusions:

1. The developed abroad and working means for stages of searches and exploration
of sea fields allow to carry out drilling of wildcat and exploration (appraisal) wells on depths of the sea up to 500-600 meters and more even in extreme ice conditions of the Arctic water areas.
2. The technique and technology of sea fields development in severe nature-climatic conditions (south-west of Barents and Pechora seas) already exist or are projected in Russia and abroad also up to sea depths 500-600 meters and more.
3. In extreme nature-climatic conditions of the Arctic seas (north-east Barents, Kara Laptev, East-Siberian, Chukcha seas) existing and designed abroad means allow to carry out development of sea fields only on sea depths up to 50-60 m. The bigger depths in these seas now should be counted technically unavailable as above-water means in heavy ice conditions should be massive enough and have the big dimensions that excludes an opportunity of then transportation to fields. Application on these depths of submarine means is excluded owing to an opportunity of their damages by drifting ice.

The problem of fields development on depths of the sea over 100 m in extreme nature-climatic conditions can be solved when use of submarine-subglacial producing systems which idea of creation belongs to Krylov Shipbuilding Research Institute. However now this technology while is at a stage of design researches.

From the given data is seen, that in a whole the size of technically available oil resource with at known now design decisions on development of the Arctic shelf oil fields make about 6,4 billion t. This figure is less in one and a half time than volume of recoverable oil resources determined by the estimation of forecasted resources at the state on 01.07.03.

The economic estimation of technically available oil and gas reserves and resources is fulfilled according to the Methodical directions by a quantitative and economic estimation of oil gas and condensate resources of Russia and Methodical recommendations for a cost estimation of oil and gas fields and the lots of oil and gas-bearing bowels.

Technical-technological decisions and normative base for the ground of an economic estimation are prepared on data of All-Russia Petroleum Scientific Exploration Institute materials of the projects of sea deposits development "Sakhalin - 1,2,3", works of Krylov Shipbuilding Research Institute on economic ground of technique and technology of the Arctic shelves fields development, and also on foreign materials.

The system of the taxation was accepted constant for all calculation period. The oil price is accepted proceeding from a level of the price incorporated in the state budget on 2004 - 26,5 dollars/bar. In view of insufficient reliability of geological parameters of the resource base the calculations have tentative character.

According to the economic estimation, on the Russia's Arctic shelf the total volume of profitable oil resources (high-, normal- and border-profitable) makes about 3,3 billion t that makes 51 % from total amount of technically available and 33 % - from total amount of recoverable resources. Thus their basic share falls to the West-Arctic water areas - 87 %. It is connected, first of all, to less severe nature-climatic conditions of the West-Arctic seas in comparison with East-Arctic, and also with the favorable geographical position, promoting the organization of large-scale export of producing he raw material to the West-European and North American power markets.

Special value is represented with high-profitable oil resources which volume is estimated in 410 million tons. This group of resources is forecasted in Pechora Sea that allows considering it as priority for development.

The volume of normal-profitable oil resources exceeds the volume of high-profitable in three times. These resources as a whole should be considered as the second echelon of sea he raw material development. In a significant amount the given group of resources is forecasted in Pechora and Kara seas.
Border-profitable resources are determined in the majority of the estimated seas. Their development is possible with further essential rise of oil prices or development of new means which use will allow lowering the current and capital costs.

As the remote reserve can be considered the unprofitable sea oil resources in volume about 3 billion t. Apparently, their involving to the industrial circulation will demand the basic changes in technique and technology of sea oil production.

Technically available resources of free gas of the Arctic water areas are estimated by size about 39 billion m (55 % from the common size of recoverable resources). Thus more than half of these resources are profitable (57 %). Their basic share is forecasted in Kara Sea (64 %) both in its lips and gulfs due to unique and large highly productive objects, and also in Barents sea (34 %). The East-Arctic water areas now have no profitable resources of free gas owing to absence of a necessary infrastructure and extreme nature-climatic conditions.

Taking into account the big volume of technically unavailable resources, it is necessary to organize purposeful scientific researches and the design development directed on the creation of new technical decisions and means, capable to provide involving of this group of resources in an industrial circulation. It is one of existing problems of development of the Arctic shelf hydrocarbon fields.

The significant capital expenditures and the risks arising during the operation of sea he fields in conditions of Arctic regions, demand the realization of some measures for creation of investment attractive climate in this region. They include: definition of priority areas of exploration works and preparation of lots for licensing, attraction of investors for development of the revealed fields on conditions of "Agreements on division of production", introduction of rent system of payments for the right of use of license lots and for he production, and also the introduction of system of discounts by development of sea oil and gas fields at early and final stages of development that is especially actual for severe conditions of the Arctic water areas.

The successful decision of enumerating above problems of development of the Russia's Arctic shelf oil and gas fields can bring essential incomes to the state budget-By the forecast of VNIGRI the production potential of the Arctic seas by 2020 will achieve on oil 23-40 million t (mainly, due to resources of the Pechora sea), on gas - about 150 billion m (due to resources of Barents and Kara seas), and the total volume of the recovered hydrocarbons for the period of 2006-2020 is estimated in 180-275 million t on oil and 890 billion m on gas.

The potential rent income of the state from the realization of forecasting production potential at the oil price 26,5 dollars/bar. (195 dollars/t) and gas price 110 dollars/thousands for 2006-2020 can make order 35,4 billion dollars (9,4 billion dollars and 26.0 billion dollars on oil and gas accordingly).



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