No. 1, 2005

Konstantin Muradov,
Head of the Offshore Oil and Gas Facilities Department of JSC LUKOIL


In July 2004 JSC LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft launched the commercial development of the Kravtsovskoye oil field (D-6). For the first time ever, a Russian company has carried out a project like that on the Baltic shelf inside the Special Economic Zone of the Kaliningrad Region. The project, a highly promising one, was completed successfully within the shortest possible time.

A community of like-minded professionals

The development of this oil field was one of several projects whose implementation is provided for in the federal target program of development of the Kaliningrad Region up to the year 2010. The technological sequence of the D-6 project is as follows: an offshore ice-resistant stationary platform (OISP), designed both for drilling of oil wells and their commercial operation, the base produce is transported along a subsea pipeline to an offshore gathering station in the settlement of Romanovo, and from it, along an overland pipeline - on to an export shipping terminal near the town of Svetly.

The successful implementation of the project was preceded by a period of intensive preparatory work. Because the Company undertook such a project actually for the first time, its leaders aimed, right from the start, at a priority goal which determined the entire course of its implementation: to train and build up a professional team of oilmen with experience in developing and operating offshore oil and gas fields, as well as to ensure the reliability and safety of operations. Moreover, all that was to be done in full accordance with the requirements of the Russian legislation and of the already accumulated international experience.

Getting ahead of the story, I would like to point out that the goal set before the Company's personnel was successfully accomplished. In spite of an acute shortage of that kind of needed specialists in Russia, by the start of the work to develop the D-6 field the Company had managed to build up a purposeful team of professionals, moreover, a team of like-thinkers with many years' experience behind them in designing, constructing and operating offshore oil and gas facilities in the Caspian, Azov and Black Seas, as well as on the shelf of the Sakhalin Island and in Vietnam.

However, it was not enough to gather such people "at the right place and at the right time"; it was also necessary to coordinate their efforts and to organize effective cooperation among the organizations, local and federal authorities and state supervisory bodies involved in the implementation of the project.

The head R&D institute of LUKOIL-VolgogradNIPImorneft, which devised the technological plan of developing the Kravtsovskoye oil field, was appointed parent design organization - a kind of brain trust in charge of the project implementation.

Later on, several tenders, in which Russian and foreign engineering companies took part, determined the most deserving participants in the project. They were: Korall Central Design Bureau (Sevastopol, Ukraine) - to supervise the offshore part of the

development; JSC Krein-Shelf (Kimry, Russia) - to take charge of drawing up documents on the supporting structures; and NIPIshelf institute (Simferopol, Ukraine) - to take charge of the subsea pipelines. Moreover, all the design and construction operations associated with development of the D-6 oil field were examined by the experts of the Germanischer Lloyd Offshore & Industrial Services GmbH international classification society. Matters concerning navigation safety and prevention of environmental pollution were elaborated in conformity with such international conventions as SOLAS, MARPOL and ILO, as well as the Russian Maritime Shipping Register.

A wealth of technologies

Organizing the construction of an OIPS required detailed elaboration and assessment of various alternatives concerning the advanced preparation of production.

For instance, at the initial stage it was planned to employ, mostly for the assembly of modules in the upper structures, the Kaliningrad works Yantar - besides the metal

construction works of the LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft company in Izhevskoye. In the long run, however, it was decided to do the entire job of manufacturing and assembling the modular units of the upper structures and the supporting structure at the LUKOIL works. This required its urgent technological remodeling, including the strengthening of its moorage and constructing a specially equipped workshop. But that made it possible to complete all the operations on time. A total of about 7,000 tons of metalwork was manufactured, and over 3,000 tons of technical equipment was installed.

Elaborated in detail were also the alternative methods of loading separate large-size units of the drilling platform - the supporting structure and the modular units of the upper structures - onto special barges to be delivered to the offshore installation point. As a result of a contest the technology proposed by the Dutch company Mammoet was adopted, which used the latest hydraulic self-propelled trailers.

The main offshore operations involving the transportation, assembly and installation of the large-tonnage units of the platform were carried out by Seaway Heavy Lifting Ltd. (SHL) with the help of the assembling-crane ship Stanislav Yudin.

The offshore installation of the platform envisaged the following sequence of operations: a living module was constructed on the existing supporting structure for the assembly workers to live in during the construction and assembly and precommissioning operations in the technological part of the platform; after that a new supporting structure was installed, poles were driven in and cemented, a bearing deck was assembled in the technological part of the platform, and then a footbridge was constructed connecting it with the spacious living module; finally, completing the operations, a power module and a technological one, as well as drilling equipment, were installed on the new supporting structure.

The subsea oil pipeline section was laid by JSC Podvodtruboprovodstroy. Special equipment was developed and used to minimize the harmful impact on the environment during the underwater engineering and dredging operations. In particular, a plow-type device was used for the digging of an underwater trench for the future pipeline which made it possible to avoid contamination of the surrounding water area with particles of the soil being worked out.

The up-to-date technology of the operations provided for the hauling along the bottom of pipes up to 7 km long (which was successfully accomplished) and their subsequent laying on the design marks by the method of free submersion with the help of discharging pontoons. The entire process was controlled with the help of the DGPS satellite navigation system.

Parallel with the offshore operations, brisk construction and assembly work was going on ashore: an oil-gathering unit was being constructed in the village of Romanovo, and from it a pipeline was being laid to the export oil-loading terminal in Izhevskoye.

All the onshore operations were carried out by organizations of the LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft company. In all, more than a thousand people took part in the construction and development operations. Besides the offshore and onshore facilities will be serviced and maintained by a further 300 specialists.

Emphasis on ecology

All organizational decisions taken in connection with the D-6 oil field development made it possible to complete the construction and assembly operations within 19 months, which is much less than the standard period for implementing projects with similar volumes of jobs.

Particular attention was paid to environmental protection. This was owing to the geographical location of the Kravtsovskoye oil field: it lies on the continental shelf of the Baltic Sea beyond the 12-mile zone of Russia's territorial waters. In such cases all activities there are regulated not only by the federal legislation but also by a special convention on protection of the marine environment. Furthermore, situated about 24 km from the above-mentioned industrial facilities is the Curonian Spit national park which adjoins a protected natural zone on the other side of the border with the Republic of Lithuania.

The strict requirements which LUKOIL sets in regard to the development of the offshore oil field are in keeping with the Company's ecological policy which it pursues in implementing its investment projects. This policy also conforms to the international standards of the environmental control system - GOST P ISO 14001-98 and GOST P ISO 14004-98 state standards.

In keeping with the spirit and the letter of those documents, the largest possible number of environmental protection measures were taken during the implementation of the Kravtsovskoye project.

The following positive results have been achieved: the amount of technological processes on the OISP has been minimized; the preparation of tank oil is conducted by the onshore facilities; oil production on the platform is based on the "zero discharge" principle: the effluent, drilling sludge and production waste are taken out to the LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft onshore station; the systems of collecting and transporting the base produce in a regular regime ensure its complete leak-proofness and exclude the possibility of its leakage into the sea; burning casing-head gas at sea is not permitted; a detailed plan of preventing oil spills and liquidating them in emergency situations has been elaborated; and an emergency rescue ship is constantly on duty near the OISP.

Furthermore, at the final stage of planning the development of the D-6 oil field, open discussions attended by representatives of the interested production and public organizations, governmental authorities and the news media were held in Kaliningrad.

Between September 29 and October 1, 2004, delegations of the Secretariat of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM) and the Ministry of the Environment of the Republic of Lithuania visited the Kravtsovskoye oil field industrial facilities at the invitation of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation and LUKOIL.

After the visit Anna-Christina Brusendorff, the Executive Secretary of the HELCOM, said that she was pleased with its results, while the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment of the Lithuanian Republic, Aleksandras Spruogis, expressed his satisfaction over cooperation between his ministry and LUKOIL.

With an eye to the future

The Russian oil and gas industry is often, and quite deservedly, referred to as one of the most important sources of revenue for the country's federal budget, as well as for many of its regional budgets. And that, on the whole, is a fair assessment. Moreover, it may be correlated with several facts associated with the start of the commercial development of the D-6 oil field.

In the first place, the OISP, already installed and operating on the Baltic shelf, will make it possible to fix in that area the present borders of Russia's economic zone.

In the second place, the operation of the oil field will mean substantial economic advantages to the Kaliningrad Region, including in the form of payments to its budget for placing various development facilities in Russia's territorial waters and for the use of its water resources, as well as in the form of compensations for affecting the marine and other components of the natural environment. For instance, upon evaluating a possible environmental impact, a sum of 3.8 million rubles in current prices was fixed as a compensation for the probable damage to the existing fish reserves. Moreover, this sum was transferred to the Kaliningrad Region long before the development of the D-6 oil field was started.

In the third place, the export of crude oil produced there will enable the Region to double its overall foreign trade index and improve the foreign trade balance of the entire area, which is bound to increase its attractiveness to investors, including foreign ones.

In the fourth place, the sizable tax revenues, owing to the crude oil produced at the Kravtsovskoye oil field, will undoubtedly enable the Region to implement its social programs in a planned manner, including attaining a stable situation in the payment of salaries to public sector workers and in the granting of benefits to several categories of citizens.

In the fifth place, the operation of the D-6 oil field will almost double oil production in the Kaliningrad Region.

And lastly, the experience acquired by LUKOIL in developing the Kravtsovskoye oil field will be utilized to the utmost in the Company's new offshore projects. At present, it plans to start developing offshore oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea, constructing the Varandey offshore ice-resistant shipping terminal in the Barents Sea, and so on.

During the ceremonial commissioning of the D-6 project, the success of the LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft staff, who played an important part in accomplishing the project, was shared by Ilya Klebanov, the RF President's envoy in the Northwestern Federal District, Vladimir Yegorov, Governor of the Kaliningrad Region, Vagit Alekperov, President of LUKOIL, and Yury Kadzhoyan, General Director of LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft. Speaking at the ceremony, Vagit Alekperov said: "The 'first oil' obtained from the bottom of the Baltic Sea today is the result of the brilliant work done by Russian specialists, and it opens up new prospects for the Kaliningrad Region. Within a short time the operation of the Kravtsovskoye oil field will practically double local oil production and will considerably strengthen Russia's positions in the Baltic area. Finally, the latest environmentally safe technologies used in implementing this project have shown that our Company is competitive on a world scale".

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Oil of Russia, No. 1, 2005
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