Shtokman oil and gas field developers weigh CCS options


For the meeting, which is one in a series, an expanded group of representatives of Shtokman Development AG, the international consortium that will develop the field, came to Murmansk for a series of meetings and presentations, which included discussions of employing CCS technologies. If these wishes materialise, they would represent the first attempt on Russian soil at using the new greenhouse gas combating technology.

The Shtokman field, located under the Barents Sea, is thought to hold some 35 trillion cubic meters of oil and gas, making it one of the world’s largest untapped resources.

Dr. Aage Stangeland, Bellona’s preeminent climate researcher said the fact that CCS is at least on the agenda of discussions is a good sign as Russia has not previously signaled any plans for pursuing CCS.

“Bellona welcomes the (possible) CCS plans for Shtokman. Combating global warming requires that CCS is deployed globally, including Russia,” he said.

“This could pave way for a broader deployment of CCS in Russia, including the oil and gas business and fossil fuelled power plants.”

Stangeland noted that CCS deployment at Shtokman, one of the country’s biggest industrial undertakings in decades could signal a point of view change from authorities in Russia who have previously resisted CCS. The studies that deploying CCS there could also pave the way for urgent geological characterizations of potential CO2 storage sites, he said.

At the meeting last week, Shtokman Development’s deputy managing director Yury Komarov said that all the technological decisions and detailed engineering on the project had already been adopted by December.

Even in the face of Russia and the world’s economic meltdown, the deadlines for bringing Shtokman’s facilities online has not changed.

“This is a priority project for all countries – the participants in the (Shtokman Development) consortium,” said Shtokman development’s executive director, Hervé Madeo.
Shtokman Development is owned 51 percent by Russia’s natural gas giant Gazprom. France’s Total owns 25 percent, and Norway’s StatoilHydro, 24 percent.

Madeo said in Murmansk that if earlier costs for production and services were extremely high, they have since become more realistic.

Price cuts could leave room in budget for CCS
The predicted fall in costs, he indicated, could lead to investment in additional means to boost the environmental safety and energy efficiency of the Shtokman development endeavor.

“As such, employing a carbon capture and storage system, as well as using renewable energy, would lessen the ecological load of the project on delicate northern nature,” said Bellona Murmansk’s energy projects coordinator, Nina Lesikhina.

The meeting between Shtokman Development and environmentalists is the third in a series. The meetings are meant to be open, but several journalists were turned away from covering it. Madeo explained the lock out to the gathered environmentalists by saying: “I hope for discussions in a spirit of mutual respect – I want to discuss problems with you in a free manner and without ‘superfluous ears.’ This is the single manner to optimally cooperate.”

Carbon capture and storage

Bellona calls upon the Russian government to develop a state plan to introduce carbon capture and storage technology for energy producing installations, to guarantee financial mechanisms for the first fully functioning facilities with CSS technology and to realise demonstration project.

"We are urging the Russian government to develop a state programme that would introduce carbon capture and storage technologies at fossil fuel based energy sites,” said Lesikhina. 

“It is quite important to provide for a financing mechanism to support first fully functional power plants running on CO2 free technologies, and launch pilot projects. We insist on building of the installation of CO2 capture and storage facilities at Shtokman field and LNG plant."  

Madeo said the Shtokman Development consortium was reviewing the possibility of adopting CCS technology.

“A present, we are working out the technical decisions,” he said, adding that the CO2 content of gas from the Shtokman field was low, at around 0.3 to 0.4 percent, where gas usually contains some 5 to 7 percent CO2.

Nevertheless, according to project developers, existing technology could catch 59,823 tonnes of CO2 per year.

“At present the technology allows the capture of CO2 before the burning of fuel, when the withdrawal of carbon gas from primary fuel, at the stage of its extraction, and after burning. The capture systems separate CO2 from smoky gasses forming in the air as a result of burning the primary fuel,” said Lesikhina.

“Therefore even if the natural content of CO2 in the extracted gas is insignificant, CO2 emissions during its burning can be enormous. So, as a result of energy production to realise the first phase of the Shtokman project, some 3,230,202 tons of CO2 will be emitted into the atmosphere.”

But the main problem, according to Madeo, is a lack of underground reservoirs in with to store captured CO2.
“If we think of what to do with the captured carbon gas, then there will be a capture system at the facility,” said Madeo. “We are now searching for such an underground aquifer.”

But, Lesikhina said that there are already many developed injection points for captured carbon dioxide, such as oil and gas reserved, as well as salt water aquifer formations. When greenhouse gasses are injected into suitable oil and gas reserves at a depth of 800 meters, various physical and geochemical capturing mechanisms trap the gasses from reentering the atmosphere. This process even allows for enhanced recovery of gas and oil, as the injected greenhouse gasses pressure more gas and oil out of the reserves.

Deep saltwater aquifers are formations that have enormous potential for greenhouse gas storage and are present in most counties. Furthermore, these formations are often close to industrial CO2 sources. The formations themselves are usually very large and have an enormous capacity to store carbon gasses.

“Bellona is therefore certain that Shtokman Development can certainly choose a CO2 storage method and find the corresponding reserves,” said Lesikhina.

“The capture of carbon gas is a very timely question,” said Sergei Zhavoronkin, and expert with the Barents Sea office of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who has also worked for Bellona.

“It is tied to climate change, especially in such a sensitive area as the Arctic. We are glad that (Shtokman) developers are devoting thorough attention to this aspect.”

Adopting energy efficient technology
At the same time, Shtokman Development deputy managing director Komarov said that the fundamental CO2 emissions load on the atmosphere will come not from the natural gas, but automobiles and other equipment that will be put to use in the project. For instance, burning one tonne of gas emits 2.7 tonnes of CO2, while burning one tonne of diesel fuel produces 3.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Shtokman developers say, therefore, that it is important to maximise the efficiency of electricity producing turbines in order to reduce emissions and lessen the demand for energy by using energy efficient technology.

“From our point of view, money invested in CO2 capture and storage technology, as well as in energy supply is reasonable,” said Madeo at this weeks meeting in Murmansk.

Energy sources
The Shtokman Development consortium has established that it will use natural gas to power its gas condensate plant, which is slated for construction in the Murmansk Region village of Teriberka. This will require the construction of a separate substation with a 500 to 600 megawatt capacity.

“It will take 600 megawatts of energy that will be supplied by burning expensive gas from the field itself to implement the project, despite the availability in the Teriberka district of an enormous wind energy potential,” said Lesikhina.

According to the developers, wind is an unstable a resource that can only be relied upon as back up, and which would require unjustifiable addition investment – even though using clean energy would help Shtokman Development reduce the emissions it is aiming to cut. 

Construction of seaside bases
Shtokman Development deputy managing director Komarov said construction of a complex of seaside bases would after the first quarter of 2010, during which environmental impact studies will be carried out, and the volume of investment established. The first gas as is expected to flow through the pipe in 2013 and the first gas condensate produced at the gas condensate plant is expected to start shipping out in 2014.

But Shtokman Development has not yet decided where to build its onshore supply base complex. Several areas under consideration are the Northwest Russian towns of Severomorsk, Teriberka, the Pechenga Bay are and the Kandlashki trade port.

StatoilHydro representatives have also proposed the Norwegian cities of Hammerfest and Kirkeness as possible sites. There are also suggestions to build it in Archangelsk.

But Komarov said that Shtokman development was “aiming to do everything so that the supply bases are build in the Murmansk Region.”