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“Pulling a gas pipeline in Transbaikalia is a crime”

Professor Vladimir Salikhov believes that the gas pipeline branch will lead to a deterioration in the economic and social situation in the region

One of the solutions to the problem of air pollution in Transbaikalia is called the gasification of the region. This issue is discussed at the regional level and intend to bring it to the federal, but not everyone agrees with this point of view. In his interview to EastRussia, the Honored Geologist of Transbaikalia, Professor Vladimir Salikhov said that the gas pipeline branch would not solve the problem, but would lead to a worsening of the economic and social situation in the region.

“Pulling a gas pipeline in Transbaikalia is a crime”

- Vladimir Salikhovich, in your opinion, does Transbaikalia need a gas pipeline or can the problems of the region be solved without it?

- I’ll ask a counter question: if you extend a pipe, where to put coal miners, what will happen to thousands of workers and their families? Unfortunately, there are already sad experiences in the country. With the arrival of gas to Yakutsk from the Vilyui gas-bearing region, dozens of mining villages in Yakutia closed, the same situation was in Primorye when gas came from Sakhalin, and we were partially affected, because we stopped supplying coal from the Kharanorsk coal mine to the Far East. Pulling a gas pipeline here in the current economic situation is criminal. We need to focus on our raw materials, primarily on the deep processing of coal.

Today, the Siberian Coal Energy Company (SUEK) is not only the owner of many coal deposits in Transbaikalia, but also the leader in environmental innovations. They cook smokeless coal in the unique Berezovsky quarry of the Kansk-Achinsk basin, which is also called smokeless briquettes. It is prepared by SUEK-Krasnoyarsk JSC primarily for domestic needs, and the household sector is one of the main air pollutants. Why do we not have this, or, for example, in Buryatia? The republic is also suffocating from smoke and has claims to SUEK, which is developing the Tugnuisky coal mine on its territory. And there it is quite possible to produce smokeless briquettes.

By the way, in the capital of neighboring Mongolia, Ulan Bator, they make such briquettes from coal, which have already significantly improved the ecological situation in the city. Similar work was carried out with us. In Chita, the scientist Galina Kuklina was engaged in briquetting technology more than 20 years ago.

- It turns out that even without a gas pipeline, you can reduce the negative burden on the environment?

- Exactly. We need to clearly understand that the direct burning of coal in furnaces, which is happening everywhere today, is a crime. For the Trans-Baikal economy, coal should become the main minerals involved in the economic turnover. On the territory of the region, 46 coal deposits are known, of which 22 are estimated and explored. Coals are represented by almost all known varieties - from brown, to stone and coking, and the vintage composition of coal is very wide.

The Energy Strategy of Russia, approved by the government for the period until 2030, emphasizes that the main priority of the Strategy is not a quantitative increase in the production of fuel and energy complex, but a qualitative updating (modernization) of the country's energy sector. Among the main tasks of the program, deep processing of coal is a red thread. This is underlined in the formed clusters: integrated deep processing of coal, development of methane production and utilization, integrated processing of coal and industrial wastes. These points, of course, should find a place in the development of the coal industry of Transbaikalia.

In the cluster “Integrated processing of coal and industrial wastes” the coal chemistry direction with the planned federal funding is impressive, with the production of chemical intermediates - phenol, dimethyl alcohol, bitumen, benzene, medical preparations, technical gas mixtures, etc. I note that carbon is the main building material of modern chemistry, as well as coke chemistry products, carbon materials (highly profitable nanomaterials from coal), sorbents (activated carbon), carbon fibers and nanotubes, and much more. Coal is a very popular product for agriculture (humates are salts of humic acid).

Thus, coal is a multi-purpose unique, multi-functional, democratic mineral raw material of various composition and properties. And the industrial classification of coal deposits has recently replenished with two more new classes: gas-coal deposits and mineralized coal deposits. The technological directions of the formed clusters must also be implemented when mining coal deposits in Transbaikalia. The consumer value (value) of coal can be significantly increased.

- What is needed for all of the above to be realized and transferred from scientific developments to the plane of practical application?

- The creation of a laboratory for coal chemistry and deep coal processing at the Institute of IPREK SB RAS should be considered a priority. It is important that coal chemistry is present in the subject matter of a number of research organizations, and the federal program focuses on the local use of raw materials, on its energy technology and coal chemistry direction. Important is the staffing and training of specialists in coal chemistry, which is quite possible to organize at ZabSU, and mid-level specialists can be trained at the Mining College under secondary vocational education programs.

It should be noted that questions and prospects for the deep processing of fossil coals of Transbaikalia were raised earlier, at the end of the twentieth century. The enthusiast in this direction was Galina Kuklina with the active participation of the Main Directorate of Natural Resources in the Chita Region (Vladimir Chechetkin) and the administration of the then Chita Region. The coals of eight developed deposits of Transbaikalia were investigated and the possibility of using high-quality non-fuel coals was used - humic preparations and sorption materials (especially spherical adsorbents), semi-coking products, as well as the possibility of using coal waste (fibrous sorbents, etc.). It is noted that the consumer value of Transbaikalia coals can be significantly increased by processing them into non-fuel commercial products for multi-purpose use.

Thus, the deep processing of coal and the coal chemistry direction is the most important scientific and production problem that largely solves environmental and economic issues, and coal is generally regarded as a transfer fuel to the energy sector of the future. We need to be prepared for this.

The explored coal reserves in Transbaikalia are small (1,2% of the total Russian), but they will be enough to satisfy their own needs, both in the energy sector and in all components of the deep coal processing. Products from them are with high consumer properties, and the cost of branded coals rises many times (with a quite acceptable payback), which is very important for areas with no oil and gas industry.

In other words, the rational use of coal, its deep processing will significantly affect the ecological and economic situation of the region and, accordingly, will lead to an increase in the quality of life.

- But recently, the gasification of Transbaikalia has been discussed as a measure that fundamentally decides economic and social issues that significantly raise living standards. So is there a gas pipeline and does the region need it?

- I believe that there should be no gas pipeline, and it is not needed. Why? It is beneficial to build gas pipelines over long distances (more than two thousand km), and where there are no roads. But there are railways and highways from Skovorodino to Chita, and digging trenches near such highways is not a state approach. Pipe laying is effective along the bottom of the Black and Baltic Seas, in the tundra, that is, where there are no roads. Let's remember that the first oil and gas pipes in the north of Western Siberia were laid directly on the swamps, and this was justified.

Now science is actively discussing the question of how it is advantageous to transport hydrocarbons - through pipelines or tanks, gas - in a liquefied or compressed state. The issue of technical re-equipment of transport systems is being actively resolved. The scientist is talking about transporting gas in a compressed state using a new material - carbon fiber (cheap) and new sorbents using polymorphic forms of carbon - fullerene, nanotubes, etc. That is, a new era of gas transportation is beginning - the sorption capacity of the proposed sorbents is very high - 620 cm3 / g Such transportation of compressed gas in cylinders with a capacity of 60 liters is very effective for vehicles and safe. Do not forget that vehicles are also a significant atmospheric pollutant. The technology for producing such a gas is simple. The economic efficiency of transporting compressed gas in tanks up to two thousand kilometers is acceptable to Chita and Ulan-Ude.

- The Onon Depression, the Chitino-Ingodinsky Depression, the Uletovsky ledge suggest that the oil equivalent of Transbaikalia can have reserves of about 100 million tons. Is this so, and in general how promising is oil and gas production in Transbaikalia?

- To assess the oil and gas prospects of the Onon Depression, which has been studied for a long time, it is necessary to drill at least two parametric wells, one in the Mangutsky trough and the other in the Narasunsky, with a depth of up to 2,5 km. The cost of one well is 200-250 million rubles. The prospects for a depression on hydrocarbon raw materials are very attractive, as evidenced by recent studies (2015-2016) by scientists from Novosibirsk, data from electromagnetic soundings and chromatography. It is curious that promising hydrocarbon structures of the Onon Depression are also located on the border with Mongolia and go to its territory, however, Mongolian experts, agreeing to this, still do not want to conduct prospecting work on their territory with us. They believe that Genghis Khan was buried in this part of the hollow and do not want to disturb him.

As for the prospects of the Chita-Ingodino depression, they are less transparent.

- A gas pipeline is not needed due to the high cost of construction and further operation?

- Not only. There is money for this. We have enough of our own raw materials. It is necessary to develop the coal industry and put it on a new stage of development. To improve the environmental situation in Transbaikalia, a comprehensive assessment of this problem is needed. In particular, Transbaikalia needs the development of the coal industry at a different level. Coal is the core of the economy and should be used on the basis of deep processing. The new low-grade coal technology developed by scientists from Krasnoyarsk is impressive - the Thermocox concept. The technology provides for the production of two products with high consumer value in an environmentally friendly way from cheap brown coal: gas and coke residue (metallurgical fuel of a higher class). In this technology, the complete absence of ash and slag dumps is impressive. Pilot plants are available, and the conversion of coal to gas fuel has long been known.

Briquetting of brown coal is necessary, and obtaining a smokeless fuel briquette (environmentally friendly product). SUEK-Krasnoyarsk JSC is actively involved in this. SUEK General Director Vladimir Rashevsky said that last year 500 million rubles were invested in this project. Further supply of liquefied gas from Angarsk is also acceptable. Let me remind you that the Angarsk Petrochemical Plant received artificial liquid fuel based on the Cheremkhov coal in 1945 and continued this work until 1960.

The production of compressed gas using a new technology is very promising, it is quite possible on the basis of the Amur gas processing plant being built in the city of Svobodny, with the production of motor fuel in cylinders (for vehicles). Such gas in tanks can be supplied to many areas of Transbaikalia. The Power of Siberia gas is multicomponent. In addition to helium (a plant is under construction), it is planned to produce butane, propane and liquefied fuel, which may further compete with the supply of similar gas from Angarsk to Transbaikalia.

The south of Transbaikalia (Onon, Akshinsky, Kirinsky areas) may well be provided with hydrocarbon raw materials of the Onon Depression. Also, the north of Transbaikalia is more than adequately provided with coal methane Apsata, and this is pure gas that does not require purification. The methane production here should be independent of coal and should be located on a different area (closer to the center of the mold), under the multimeter permafrost, which prevents methane degassing. The latter is especially active on the lower horizons, where temperatures reach 450 degrees (after all, the Baikal rift, where deep degassing is also possible). 

The technology for producing coal-water fuel developed by Kuzbass scientists is also quite acceptable. The coal-water mixture is prepared from ultrafine brown coal (up to 70%), water (29%) and a plasticizer, and the mixture is supplied through a pipeline. Such installations operate in the USA, China. Pilot industrial operation was also carried out in our country in 1997-2003 along the Belovo (Kuzbass) - Novosibirsk (TPP-5) highway, 262 km long.

Transportation in pipes and burning of coal can be carried out according to the "fuel oil scheme" - economical and environmentally friendly. Moreover, a fuel-transport-energy complex is being developed, including the preparation of coal-water fuel in the Kuzbass coal basin and transmission to the main pipeline through Western Siberia, the Urals, and the Center of the European part of the country (instead of supplying coal by rail). Organocarbon fuel options are also being developed.

If this technology is applied to our region, the construction of the following coal pipelines is quite acceptable in Transbaikalia: the Vostochny state district power station (about 60 km), the Kharanorsky-Yasnogorsk section (the Kharanorsk state district power station, about 80 km), and the Urtuisky section - the Krasnokamensk TPP. This will significantly improve the ecological and economic situation in the region.

As for the environmental problem, the construction of solar power plants, which is already underway in Transbaikalia, as well as wind energy, will partially solve it. In the distant future, it is possible to use the heat of the earth's interior.

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