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The Turonian EraНазад
By Stanislav Tsygankov, Director General, Severneftegazprom
In recent years, more and more discussions in the gas industry are raising the possibility of the imminent depletion of global hydrocarbon reserves. At the same time, experts predict that by the middle of the 21st century, oil and gas consumption in the world will double, with 70% of energy still derived from hydrocarbons in 2050. Demand for gas is growing, while its easily-accessible sources are decreasing.
The era of easy and cheap gas is over. This became evident not today or even yesterday. In this regard, both Russia and the world are moving into a new stage in the development of the gas industry, which involves development of fields in extremely difficult geological, mining and natural and climatic conditions. The industry faces the challenge of efficiently and rationally developing hard-to-recover gas reserves. Solving this task requires bringing together the entire available scientific and technical potential with the development and implementation of new technologies and equipment.
Severneftegazprom became the first among gas companies in Russia to take a step in this direction having launched the pilot production of Turonian gas at the Yuzhno-Russkoye field in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District.
The Yuzhno-Russkoye oil and gas field being developed by Severneftegazprom is one of the largest fields in Russia, unique in its structure and hydrocarbon reserves with a total volume of more than 1 tcm of gas and 40 million tons of oil and gas condensate. It is a major resource base for the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which is designed to ensure stability and continuity of gas supplies to Europe.
The Yuzhno-Russkoye field development is an international project in the field of gas production. Severneftegazprom has three shareholders: Gazprom and two German minority shareholders, BASF SE (Wintershall Holding GmbH) and E.ON AG (E.ON Exploration & Production GmbH).
Turonian deposits of the Yuzhno-Russkoye field
At present, the company produces more than 25 bcm of gas per year. Until recently, production was carried out exclusively from the Cenomanian deposits. However, the situation has changed since the beginning of this year. Thanks to the successful implementation of the Turonian deposit pilot project, our company was able to produce the Turonian gas and fed it into the unified gas transportation system of Russia.
Until now, no one has been able to achieve this. The fact is that Turonian deposits are classified as hard-to-recover reserves. They are distinguished from Cenomanian deposits by their abnormally high formation pressure; ten times worse reservoir permeability and gas recovery from the bed; complex pressure and temperature conditions; and the heterogeneity and facies variation of the reservoirs. Turonian development using traditional (for Cenomanian deposits) vertical wells is unfeasible. Here, there was the need to use a novel approach.
This was not an obstacle for Severneftegazprom. About two years ago, we started to actively search for ideas. The company hired the best Russian and foreign experts to develop innovative technological solutions – including top-notch experts from LLC Gazprom Bureniye, Korvet JSC, Halliburton, among others. Their engineers worked side by side with our company’s experts to develop and apply unique solutions to make development of Turonian deposits technologically feasible and cost-effective. As a result, an experimental two-downhole well was built on a ready-to-use base of an existing well cluster. This experimental well was connected to an existing gas-collecting network in the field. This special well, unique in Russia, makes it possible to operate two Turonian beds simultaneously and independently of each other. For its operation, we designed and built a dual "Christmas tree" of valves and fittings that is unique worldwide.
Today the well is working perfectly as a pilot project; its output exceeds the design level of 200 tcm per day. We believe that the development of the Turonian deposits of the Yuzhno-Russkoye field will be a successful project. Becoming a pioneer in the Turonian development project is a great honor and a special status for our company.
Of course, the Turonian beds are still poorly studied and definitive conclusions on the expediency of their large-scale development remain to be made. However, it is already clear at present that this area has good prospects. According to experts, Turonian deposits are, in terms of reserves, comparable to the large, some say giant, Cenomanian fields. For example, the Turonian gas reserves at the Yuzhno- Russkoye field alone are estimated at a minimum of 300 bcm of gas, while the Turonian gas reserves in Western Siberia are estimated at least in 3 tcm of gas.
"I would like to thank the staff of Severneftegazprom and all those who contributed and initiated the new stage in the development of the gas industry in Russia, aimed at developing hard-to-recover gas reserves," stated Alexander Medvedev, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Severneftegazprom, and Deputy Chairman of Gazprom Management Committee, during the well launching ceremony.
Thanks to the production potential and human resources accumulated, and the professionalism of all participants in the project, we were able to successfully start the project. We have a short-term plan of preparing the Turonian gas deposit for commercial operation. If the project is successfully implemented, there could be potential increase by 5 to 8 bcm in annual gas production at the Yuzhno-Russkoye field. Obviously, the results of our experiment could be useful to other domestic and foreign gas production companies. Gazprom Dobycha Noyabrsk, Gazprom Dobycha Yamburg, and Rosneft are already showing interest in the Turonian deposits.
Certainly, Severneftegazprom is willing to share its experiences accumulated in implementing the project on gas production from the Turonian deposits with colleagues both in Russia and abroad. I hope that our experience will be the first step and the basis for the beginning of a new stage in the development of the gas industry – the era of hard-to-recover reserves. The Turonian era!