Archive

No. 3, 2004

Olga Pichuzhkina,
Head of the Environment Protection Service, JSC LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft

SAVING THE CURONIAN SPIT


The latest environment friendly technologies are used in developing the Kravtsovskoye offshore oil field on the Baltic

Concern for protecting the unique ecosystem of the Baltic Sea compelled the experts of JSC LUKOIL to select the most environment friendly design solutions for its offshore oilfield development project. The unique ecosystem of the Baltic Sea and the nearness of popular seaside resorts demand that the most environment friendly design solutions be selected for the D-6 offshore oilfield development project. That is why LUKOIL's environmental policy here is based on the zero discharge principle which the Company have already been succesfully applied on its offshore platform on the Caspian. Moreover, LUKOIL took unprecedented measures to prevent any emergency situations and carry out environmental monitoring including round-the-clock satellite one.

Within the framework of law

The Kravtsovskoye (D-6) oil field is located not too far away from the famous Baltic resorts and the unique Curonian Spit national park spreading wide on the south-eastern Baltic coast.

Naturally, the environmental factor was basic to designing the D-6 development project. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Federal Law of Russia On the Continental Shelf of the Russian Federation give this country the exclusive right to regulate its activities in the area, oil exploration and production included. In developing the Kravtsovskoye (D-6) oil field, JSC LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft complied with all the provisions of Russian law and international agreements ratified by the Russian Federation. The project is being carried out in accordance with applicable Russian law. Under the RF Constitution, international commitments of the Russian Federation take precedence over federal laws. With a view to settling international conflicts arising from the environmental pollution caused in the process of continental shelf development, Russia acceded to the 1992 Protocol of the International Convention on Civil Responsibility for Oil Pollution Damage adopted in 1969. Under the Convention, the offshore oil platform owners are to compensate for the damage caused in the event of marine environment pollution.

In designing the D-6 project, the Company took special pains to observe the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (Helsinki, 1974/92) and fulfill the recommendations of the HELCOM - the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (Helsinki Commission) which all the Baltic states are members of.

At all design stages the D-6 platform's impact on the environment components - the atmosphere, seawater, seabed and bioresources - was assessed, and public forums were held to discuss ecological problems. The more rational remarks and suggestions made by forum participants were taken into consideration when preparing the concluding volume of the EIA (environmental impact assessment).

The project passed successfully the government environmental review at the federal level as confirmed by RF Ministry of Natural Resources Resolution No. 9 of January 3, 2003. Altogether, the project was approved by 22 authorized government agencies.

By now the offshore ice-resistant stationary platform has been installed in the Baltic sea on the D-6 formation and put into operation by order of the Government Commission.

Construction was conducted in keeping with the ISO 9000 international quality standards under the supervision of the Gosgortekhnadzor of Russia, the RF Ministry of Natural Resources, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, and Germanischer Lloyd AG.

Top priority: safety

The offshore facilities of the D-6 oil field are intended for the simultaneous drilling and year-round operation of 21 producing slant and horizontal wells, and for the subsequent transportation of well production to shore by a subsea pipeline.

At all the stages of construction and development, every measure was taken to minimize damage to the environment. Specifically, the volume of underwater construction work was reduced considerably. At LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft's steelworks an assembly shop 40 m high was constructed expressly for the purpose. Sections for the subsea pipeline were welded together on shore into 500-m long strings which were then transported offshore and laid on the seabed by a workship-pipelayer. All welding and insulation operations were supervised by Germanischer Lloyd AG.

The development of the Kravtsovskoye oil field will proceed on the zero discharge principle whereby the dumping of any industrial or consumption waste, even Тpot-wash,У is not allowed at any rate. This principle, first used by LUKOIL when developing Northern Caspian offshore oil fields, kept the Astra jack-up floating drilling rig's impact on the Caspian marine environment down to a minimum.

The crude recovered from the field will be channeled, via a subsea pipeline, to an onshore crude gathering station wherefrom, upon water and associated gas separation, stock-tank oil will proceed along a ground-surface pipeline to the integrated oil terminal to be loaded into tankers.

In compliance with the Helsinki Convention, the platform crew will neither burn, nor otherwise dispose of waste products at sea.

The platform design features automatic process control and early troubleshooting systems.

Minimizing risks

Within the framework of the D-6 construction project environmental feasibility study the Company worked out the Oil Spill Prevention and Elimination Plan. The plan envisages various accident scenarios, assesses the degree of their probability, plots tentative routes of oil spill drifts, provides for the ways and means of oil spill localization and elimination. The plan has been drawn up in line with Russian legal provisions and with the recommendations of international agreements (the HELCOM, in particular).

The Company has made provisions for various emergency situations, purchased oil spill containing and skimming equipment, and signed contracts with the specialized federal Baltic BASU marine rescue unit. The Balkhan special-purpose vessel equipped with fire-fighting, life-saving and oil spill skimming gear is on a round-the-clock duty alongside the platform. A 100-m wide protection zone on each side of the subsea pipeline axis, off-limits for anchor-casting and trawl-sweeping, has been provided for.

In normal operation mode, the pipeline is given preventive maintenance and interior cleaning according to a special schedule. A special oil and gas seepage and blowout prevention and control unit has been set up.The platform and onshore pumps are equipped with back-pressure valves and electrically-controlled gates to stop oil piping in the event of a pipeline breach.

LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft has signed a contract with the Rosen-Europa company for pipeline inspection using, in particular, high-resolution electronic geometrical and magnetic pistons.

Environmental monitoring

A special Oilfield Infrastructure Environmental Impact Monitoring program has been drawn and agreed upon with the conservancy authorities with a view to conducting continuous monitoring of the state of the Baltic marine environment and assessing the project's effects on the Baltic sea's ecosystem.

For some years, the Company has been conducting background monitoring surveys of the Baltic using research vessels of the RAS Institute of Oceanology, the Atlantic Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (AtlantNIRO), and the fleet of LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft. The environmental parameters of the Baltic and its coast, the Curonian Spit included, are being studied. Survey findings go to show that the offshore platform construction and the D-6 oilfield development operations have had no adverse effect on the south-eastern Baltic's ecosystem.

Besides, scientists of Kaliningrad State University have long been conducting geoecological monitoring of the Baltic coastal zone within the limits of the entire Kaliningrad Region for the purpose of building up a database. Ecological sensitivity maps of the Curonian Spit National Park and coast within LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft's zone of responsibility have been charted. Starting with mid-2004, LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft plans to begin all-round satellite monitoring of the south-eastern Baltic coast under the EcoBaltica marine environment watch project.

Monitoring will be conducted round-the-clock, with the quality of space photographs not depending, due to the radar method used, on weather conditions and solar illumination. On their basis maps of oil spills drifting in the Baltic are charted.

Such space monitoring will make it possible not only to spot oil spills, if any, that have formed in the Russian part of the sea but also those brought in by currents from other areas.

All information about cases of oil pollution of the Baltic area under observation, obtained through space monitoring, will be passed on to LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft and, simultaneously, to the government agencies responsible for environment control in that part of the Baltic. As a rule, such comprehensive marine environment monitoring programs are government-financed in all countries.

Nevertheless, LUKOIL has decided to conduct this particular all-round satellite monitoring program at its own expense. That will guarantee a truly reliable control over the marine environment of the Russian section of the Baltic Sea where LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft is at work.

To conclude, LUKOIL has not only introduced the latest environment friendly technologies in the Baltic by the moment of launching its first offshore oil production facility, but also is going to bring them to perfection in the long run.




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Oil of Russia, No. 3, 2004
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