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Gazprom’s oil field operations offer lessons to NNPC

Nigeria’s oil rig count rose 85 percent within the last six months to its highest level since January 2020, according to new data from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), signaling that Africa’s biggest oil producer is no longer going to be playing on the margins.

Moscow, Russia||The operations and management of Gazprom Group’s Bovanenkovskoye oil, gas and condensate field located in the Yamal Peninsula to serve Russia and the rest of the world can offer lessons to the NNPCL.

Abubakar Ibrahim joined officials of the company and other African journalists and experts on a tour of the facility and found that the facility can help dent Nigeria’s oil and gas sector’s challenges by optimising poorly performing assets and following the scheduled maintenance plan.

Yamal is located in the north of Russia, beyond the Arctic Circle. In the language of its indigenous inhabitants, the Nenets, “Yamal” means “End of the Land.”

Driving through the Yamal Peninsula spanning an area of 122,000 square kilometres. The evidence of global standard, quality and intentional operations were glaring that one hopes for a prototype in Nigeria and Africa.

Gazprom Group’s Bovanenkovskoye oil, gas and condensate field which provides topnotch exploration, processing, and production of petroleum products for domestic and commercial consumption, did not disappoint.

Discovered in 1971 and began production in 2012, Gazprom Group’s Bovanenkovskoye oil, gas and condensate field has created a community out of a business enterprise, recording zero theft and vandalism since the beginning of operations. Coming from a country where manholes are vandalised, the urge to scream “let’s replicate this in Nigeria ” was loud in one’s mind.

Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa with the highest proven gas reserves on the continent (208.83 trillion cubic feet – tcf), has been marred by theft, corruption, inefficiency in operations, and gas flaring among other things. For example, so far in the year, the country has flared gas worth $412 million and $1.2 billion since January 2022, according to the Nigerian gas flare tracker.

Read also: Nigeria got $2.53bn in non-oil exports proceeds for H1 2023 – NEPC

In terms of inefficiencies, the nation has moribund gas projects exceeding the exceeded date of commissioning. From the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline to the Trans-Saharan gas pipeline, Nigeria is yet to deliver these projects months after exceeding the stipulated time.

The 614 km-long natural gas pipeline, developed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) limited, was supposed to be delivered in 2022. However, in a recent interview, Mele Kyari, Group CEO of the NNPC, said the project is 70 percent completed. It was estimated to cost $2.8 billion and form phase one of the Trans-Nigeria Gas Pipeline (TNGP) project.

The biggest takeaway from the facility tour is that Nigeria’s gas challenges are not impossible to solve and it starts by ensuring that current assets are maintained and repaired to deliver at maximum capacity.

Dmitry Stratov, deputy director general for prospective development, Gazprom Dobycha Nadym, said during the tour that the Group will and is ready to support African nations with its technology to boost gas exploration, production and commercialisation in the continent.

Bovanenkovskoye (one of the largest gas fields in the world)

The aggregate reserves and resources found in all fields of the Gazprom Group in the Yamal Peninsula and the Yamal shelf of the Kara Sea is 20 trillion cubic metres of gas (706 trillion cubic feet).

According to Gazprom Group, the new gas production centre is key to the development of the Russian gas industry in the 21st century.

“The primary development target in Yamal is the Cenomanian-Aptian deposits of the Bovanenkovskoye oil, gas and condensate field. They lie at depths of 1,000–1,700 metres.”

The field ranks among the top ten largest gas fields in the world. Its initial reserves total 4.9 tcm (173 tcf) of gas.

Covers 1,780 square kilometres

The area of the licensed block of the Bovanenkovskoye field exceeds, for example, that of Johannesburg in South Africa and Gazprom Dobycha Nadym holds the license for the development of the field.

Industrial development started in 2012. The field is developed by three gas production facilities. The project envisages 12 booster compressor stations for ensuring the required gas pressure level before gas is fed into the gas transmission system.

Developmental efficiency

The main development stages of the Bovanenkovskoye field started in 2008 and in the next ten years (2018), the Group has commissioned three production sites that are active today with 770 wells.

“The third production facility will increase Bovanenkovo capacity to the target level, or 115 billion cubic metres of gas per year. This number is colossal, without exaggeration. It equals a quarter of Gazprom’s current annual production,” said President Vladimir Putin of the Federation of Russia during the commissioning in 2018.

According to him, The figure is almost half of what Gazprom provides for Russia’s domestic market and almost half of our exports, both to neighbouring and more distant countries. “The scale is impressive.”

Gazprom Group’s technological solutions

The technological advancement and technical know-how has placed the Group as one of the powerhouse in petroleum products production in the world.

According to Stratov, the use of three-dimensional geological and hydrodynamic modelling for the development of multi-layer deposits has helped with the field’s success stories.

He said the three models are; thermal stabilisation of permafrost soils in construction areas, reduction of distances between wellheads in order to use smaller areas and make operations more efficient, and building of foundations using anchor piles to ensure better stability.

“The concern for permafrost preservation is an important factor for ensuring production reliability and environmental safety in operation of the fields.”

Gazprom has made the peninsula a base for highly efficient and safe innovative technologies and technical solutions. Many of them have been developed by leading Russian research institutes and companies specifically for Yamal on Gazprom’s order.

Sustaining the ecosystem

Gazprom has concerned itself with preserving the Yamal’s unique nature and seeks to minimise its environmental impacts. The company implements numerous environmental measures as Russia’s largest reindeer herd continuously migrates across Yamal. There are over 200,000 reindeer in the Peninsula.

According to Gazprom, a set of measures to minimise the impact on the region’s ecosystem includes the use of in-plant water recycling systems preventing pollution of water reservoirs and soils, and suspension of construction works during the spring nesting season.

Other measures are the withdrawal of water from reservoirs using fish protection devices and the use of special crossings over utility lines in order to allow reindeer to migrate freely.

The population of the indigenous peoples leading a traditional nomadic lifestyle in the area of nearly 150,000 square kilometres is over 6,000 people. One of the basic principles of Yamal’s industrial development is a harmonious combination of the industrial development in the peninsula and a careful approach to the traditional way of life of the indigenous minorities of the North.

“Russia plans on expanding cooperation with Africa, stating that Gazprom’s expertise stands to play an important part in supporting the development and maximisation of gas in Africa,” said Dmitry Khandoga, Gazprom’s Head of Department, at the latest African Energy Chamber-Gazprom international roundtable themed, ‘The Benefits of Natural Gas for the Population and the Economy.’

“We see that Africa is well positioned for future growth but at the same time, there are a number of key issues that need to be addressed such as food security and energy security.

“By 2040, the number of cities in Africa with a population of more than five million people will more than double…you cannot rely on traditional fuels such as wood if you are moving to cities. If you are developing the digital economy, you need to make sure that energy is reliable and secure. Gazprom has vast experience in all spheres of the gas value production chain.”

Khandoga provided insight into Gazprom’s activities, showcasing how the company has emerged as a globally competitive gas giant owing to progress across every segment of the value chain.

According to Khandoga, “Our total reserves amount to 20.943 tcm (739.595 tcf) of gas, enough to supply the entire world. We are confident that the technological experience of Gazprom will be in very much demand by our African counterparts.”