The century of the Arctic: how to safely develop oil and gas fields located in harsh climatic conditions

Working in the North can be equated to one of the most dangerous types of human activity, along with

miners, sappers and wild trainersanimals. But despite the high costs and obvious risks of exploration and production, global oil and gas companies are paying more and more attention to the Arctic region, because a quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas reserves are located there. The US Geological Survey estimates Arctic reserves at 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,669 trillion cubic meters. feet of gas. According to Russian scientists, Arctic reserves are comparable to hydrocarbon reserves in Western Siberia and the Persian Gulf.

What is the danger?

Low temperatures for most of the year,changes in sea level, sea ice and icebergs, and fairly rapid climate changes in the world - these are the main risks associated with the development of the Arctic. Thus, in 1980, the famous accident at the Norwegian SSDR (semi-submersible drilling rig - Hi-Tech) Alexander Kielland in the North Sea claimed the lives of 123 people. And relatively recently, in 2011, 53 people died on the Russian floating platform Kola in the Sea of ​​Okhotsk. For reference, the largest accident in terms of scale (but, fortunately, not in terms of the number of victims) on a drilling platform occurred on April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico on the Deepwater Horizon platform, which was owned by a subsidiary of the transnational corporation British Petroleum. 12 people died, the building itself was completely destroyed by fire, and about 15 thousand tons of oil leaked into the sea. Almost the entire southern region of the United States was affected; the coasts of three states were on the verge of an environmental disaster.

Russia is intensively increasing its development potentialwater areas of internal sea waters and the Arctic shelf. To carry out geotechnical work, extraction and transportation of raw materials, it is not enough just to know the exact weather forecast; multidimensional hydrometeorological monitoring of water areas is required - meteorological, oceanographic, navigation. And if this analysis does not take place comprehensively, but in several disparate systems, the risk of data loss and, as a consequence, dangers caused by low decision-making speed increases.

Kolskaya floating drilling rig. Photo: Andrey Pronin / TASS / Interpress

It is also necessary to take into account that the seas in the Arcticheterogeneous: somewhere ice cover is thicker, and somewhere thinner, but denser due to the fact that the water is almost fresh. All these parameters (and there may be hundreds of them) need to be put together for making forecasts and assessing the situation. For such purposes, researchers use the most complex geographic information systems. They allow not only to collect and analyze huge amounts of data, but also to make short-term and medium-term forecasts. For example, in which direction does the nearest ice massif move, when, up to several days, you need to finish the work so that there is no risk of collision.

So, JSC "Institute of Environmental Design andsurveys ”(IEPI) in the framework of information and technological support of ice operations in the waters of the Arctic zone of Russia introduced specialized software based on the EverGIS platform, developed by Everpoint. With the help of this software, the control of the ice situation and the search for hydrocarbon pollution are carried out with the subsequent determination of their sources.

Analysis of ice conditions and water temperature in the Kara Sea in the EverGIS system

How does technology help calculate risks?

Before the implementation of geographic information systems, work onon the Arctic shelf were carried out almost by touch: all activity was planned for three months of the year, when there is definitely no ice in the water area. But often in the off-season you can start work earlier and finish a little later - it all depends on the weather. But since it was impossible to track this, a lot of time was wasted. In spring and autumn, researchers must be especially careful; it is at this time that large ice floes and other dangerous objects appear.

Today, to assess the degree of danger, scientistsmodel the direction of their drift, speed, degree of threat. For this purpose, data from a number of sources are used, including organizations and scientific institutes, for example, such large international companies as CLS (a branch of the French National Center for Space Research CNES and the French Research Institute for the Development of the Sea IFREMER) and the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Nansen International Center for Environment and Remote Sensing, N. N. Zubov State Oceanographic Institute, Marl n-South "and others.

Data that is aggregated into the system:

  • general information - the location of the object, for example, a floating or stationary platform, the boundaries of the security zone, the boundaries of license areas;
  • operational information - telemetry data from ARGOS radio beacons placed on potentially dangerous ice objects;
  • oceanographic information - sea surface temperature, current speed and direction, wind fields, water color, bathymetry, surface anomalies, tides, salinity;
  • navigation information - vessels identified from radar satellite images, AIS data;
  • ice conditions - the boundaries and directions of drift of ice fields, the classification of types of ice, the location and estimated directions of drift of ice objects;
  • ecological situation - contours and expected directions of drift of hydrocarbon slicks and radar satellite images.

Some of the data in the system is updated automatically every day. For other sets that do not require such frequent updates, manual loading at any time using import mechanisms is acceptable.

Customer companies also have access to operational information, and, in addition, often supply spatial data to the system themselves.

Among the customers are oil and gas companies - group enterprisesGazprom, Rosneft, Gazprom Neft- and their subcontractors, industryscientific and technical organizations. Currently, only Rosneft and Gazprom have the right to work on the Arctic shelf. Rosneft owns 28 drilling licenses, and Gazprom - 38. New licenses are not being issued now - Russia in 2016 introduced a temporary moratorium on licensing areas of the Arctic shelf so that, according to ex-Minister of Natural Resources Sergei Donskoy, companies could “focus on existing commitments and reduce the time frame for opening new fields.” However, in September last year, the State Duma was considering a bill to resume the issuance of licenses - just because of one site in the Sea of ​​\u200b\u200bOkhotsk. According to Gazprom estimates, the geological reserves of the Koryakia-1 field may amount to 420 million tons of oil and 1 trillion cubic meters. m of gas. Both oil producing companies obviously have a great interest in its development.

Now that the researcher has everything fresh on his handsdata, it can form in the system an exact action plan to ensure the safety of the rig and work. To do this, around the objects of interest of interest (as a rule, this is a drilling rig), a buffer zone is determined, the entry into which any object is accurately calculated and controlled to ensure the safety of the drilling rig. For example, the trajectory and speed of movement of ice are calculated, which are relatively close to the drilling platform. The direction of movement of vessels around is monitored, how strong are the currents and winds in the chosen water area, will they not damage the installation? More “imperceptible” parameters are also recorded - pressure and humidity of the air, seasonal climate changes and much more.

Thanks to new technologies, all this dataare brought together. The system calculates when drilling platform employees should start and finish work, accurate to within a few days. It is also regulated which track should be followed by sea vessels to reach their destination within a given time, depending on the ice conditions, the drift of ice fields, deformation fields and the movement of icebergs. The cost of an error is very high: if the situation in the water area is assessed incorrectly and an icebreaker is required for work, the cost of work increases by at least 1 million rubles daily - this is the amount that starts the cost of operating an icebreaker per day.

But it’s not enough to just protect drilling rigs fromice, they need to be built correctly. For example, the accident on the Norwegian Alexander Kielland platform occurred due to what experts call “metal fatigue.” This means that during its construction, the properties of metals, their wear under certain loads, changes in temperature, humidity and other factors were not taken into account in the calculations. There is a similar problem when installing a floating drilling rig on the ground - researchers admit that if there is little data or poor-quality geophysical research, the likelihood of accidents is very high. For example, the Prirazlomnaya stationary oil platform was built without taking into account the recommendations of the Arctic and Antarctic Institute, which led to problems in the operation of one of the complexes of direct oil loading devices. But modern analytical systems have already learned to accumulate large amounts of necessary data, process them and, on this basis, analyze how suitable the state of the environment is for installation. The most useful data are on currents, wind, sea surface height anomalies, temperature and salinity. By the way, only data on the speed and direction of four currents in the Kara Sea weighs 50 GB in the system - we are talking about 22 million calculated values.

Presentation on the map of data on the movement of icebergs, on the speed and direction of currents in the Kara Sea

Leaks of petroleum products, or that unscrupulous captains hide

If something goes wrong and a leak occurspetroleum products, it is important to quickly find it, determine the source and degree of contamination. Radar and optical data are analyzed and satellite monitoring is carried out. If it is really oil, and not an algae bloom on the water, then with the help of special oil-grade beacons, the direction of its drift is determined and the source of pollution is identified. This is where the most difficult stage begins: you can formally assess the likelihood of oil products being discharged from a particular vessel simply by analyzing data from its navigation equipment. But captains often turn off identification when planning to release pollutants into the sea. Then IEPI specialists are forced to predict the routes of ships with identification turned off: points of entry to the sea, destination points, the last recorded coordinates of the vessel and images from space are taken into account, and GIS makes it possible to bring all this information together.

It is noteworthy that there are not only leaksemergency, but also natural, and EverGIS helps to distinguish them. This is important because the information on leaks goes directly to the customers, and it is important to provide them with only objective information about the production efficiency in the region.

In addition to the current state of the water area,Researchers make long-term analysis: climate change and global warming make it necessary to regularly monitor the state of glaciers, the dynamics of ice formation and purification of the water area, cyclonic drift patterns. In EverGIS, you can perform a retrospective analysis and study the dynamics of data changes over time using the Chrono Filter tool. Such an analysis will help identify seasonal patterns, the relationship between weather conditions and the state of the environment and predict short-term and medium-term trends.

But the data systems are still supported"Physical" monitoring of the water area: researchers are obliged to hedge. Specialists on duty on ice-class multifunctional rescue vessels, mark all movements on the map.

The Arctic remains one of the most promisingdirections for the development of a number of industries. We are talking not only about mining, but also about fishing, sea salt extraction, and even the construction of farms for growing medicinal plants (there are species already used in the production of cancer drugs). Therefore, we can expect rapid development of technologies in this area, including GIS. Their development will go in two main directions: ensuring the safety and saving resources of drilling rigs and transport during oil production, as well as reducing the impact of industrial development of the Arctic on the environment. It is no secret that the Arctic biological system is extremely fragile; even the excessive noise level created by drilling rigs can harm its inhabitants. For example, gray and bowhead whales (already on the verge of extinction) use acoustic sound waves to navigate, find food and communicate, so any extraneous noise is critical for them.