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Yakutsk LNG: from small-scale production to large-scale projects

Yakutia is one of the most gasified regions of the Far East. At the same time, the region intends to increase the proven reserves of hydrocarbons, which will make it possible to implement large projects for the production of liquefied natural gas.

The Minister of Industry and Geology of Yakutia Maxim Tereshchenko told EastRussia about the prospects of the industry.

Yakutsk LNG: from small-scale production to large-scale projects
Photo: press service of the Ministry of Industry and Geology of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
Special project Yakutsk Initiative

- At the end of March, the State Assembly (Il Tumen) hosted an "Hour of the Expert" dedicated to the issues of gas supply to the central regions of the Sakha Republic. In particular, it was said that the Srednevilyuyskoye gas condensate field (GCF) should provide exclusively for the needs of the republic, its reserves should not be considered as a base for the implementation of other projects with gas supplies outside the region, namely within the framework of the Yakutsk LNG project. How justified are these fears?


The Yakutsk LNG project provides for the construction of a main gas pipeline to the coast of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk and an offshore natural gas liquefaction plant with an annual capacity of up to 18 million tons. The idea was initiated by PJSC Yakutsk Fuel and Energy Company, which owns licenses for the commercial development of the Srednevilyuisky and Mastakhsky gas condensate fields, and production at the Tolonskiy area and geological study within the Tymtaidakhskiy subsoil area. YATEK is the only gas supplier to settlements in Central Yakutia. Annual production is about 1,7 billion cubic meters. m of gas and 120 thousand tons of gas condensate.

- To begin with, if we consider the mineral resource base of the Vilyui group of uluses (Vilyuisky, Verkhnevilyuisky, Nyurbinsky, Suntarsky districts, the Kobyaysky ulus can also be included here), then the reserves of natural gas in the C1 + C2 category here exceed 930 billion cubic meters. m. This is almost 30% of the balance reserves of the entire Yakutia. Of these, 396 billion cubic meters are on the balance sheet of the Yakutsk Fuel and Energy Company. m.

To implement the Yakutsk LNG project, which is planned to be implemented in stages, YATEK must first reach production of 15 billion cubic meters. m of gas annually, then - by 25 billion. To receive such volumes for a long time, there must be a new resource base.

Integrated gas treatment unit - Srednevilyuyskoye gas condensate field 
Photo: press service of PJSCYATEK "

The increase in production will take place at the expense of reserves in the Severny, Yuzhny and Maysky subsoil blocks - YATEK received the corresponding licenses based on the results of three auctions won in early 2021. The area of ​​the new plots is 43 thousand square meters. m. Total resources - about 345 billion cubic meters. m, not counting gas condensate and oil.

That is, in this case, the Srednevilyuyskoye gas condensate field is not considered as a baseline. Although we understand that it may be partially involved along with other fields. Now YATEK is starting exploration at new licensed areas. Recently, our specialists went there, saw that drilling rigs had been installed, and a working camp was being established. I think the scale of geological exploration will be at least comparable, if it does not exceed the volume of geological exploration during the Soviet era.

- This year marks 35 years since the Srednevilyuyskoye gas condensate field was put into commercial operation. Is it still the main facility today that meets the gas needs of the central regions of Yakutia, including the republican capital?

- Indeed, today this is the main field, the Mastakhskoye gas condensate field is considered as a reserve one. Gas is supplied to the Yakutskaya SDPP, boiler houses, and to the population. We have our own republican gas transportation infrastructure, which is operated by Sakhatransneftegaz. The expansion of this network continues: for example, we are now discussing the issue with the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation on the need to attract federal funds to complete the construction of an additional string of a significant section of the Kyysyl-Syr-Mastakh gas pipeline (84 km).

I would like to note that the Republic of Sakha is one of the few regions of Russia that independently works to develop gas supply to its territory. We have more than 100 settlements gasified, not only at the expense of the YATEK fields, but also others, in particular, in Western Yakutia.

- Experts note the high seasonal unevenness of consumption at the Srednevilyuyskoye gas condensate field. How to solve the problem?

 “We carried out a comprehensive analysis, saw the seasonality of these supplies, calculated how the appearance of additional gas consumers would make it possible to smooth out this unevenness, ensure the normal operation of production wells, and avoid various drops. We see what investment projects need to be implemented, for example, to organize the production of an alternative type of fuel for transport, which will generally have a positive effect on the tariff policy, since an increase in the volume of raw materials from gas condensate fields will at least restrain the growth of tariffs, including for the population. At the same time, we worked with YATEK and other companies on the issue of additional supplies of pipeline gas, as well as with Sakhatransneftegaz on the possibility of transporting these volumes.

- Let's go back to the Yakutsk LNG project. It includes the construction of a main pipeline with a length of about 1,3 thousand km and the creation of a gas liquefaction plant on the Okhotsk Sea coast of the Khabarovsk Territory. As you know, in March, residents of the Ayano-Maisky district, who came to the referendum, voted against the gas chemical production of the Chinese Sirius Holding, which intends to use reserves in Yakutia as raw materials. Could such a public reaction become a hindrance to the YATEK project?


According to the Sirius Holding project, it is proposed to create a gas chemical park in the north of the Khabarovsk Territory. Pipeline gas coming from Yakutia will become the basis for the production of methanol (up to 7,8 million tons annually), acetic acid (1,2 million tons), synthetic ammonia (1,8 million tons), urea (3,5 million tons), formaldehyde (880 thousand tons), melamine (240 thousand tons), etc. For the shipment of products, it is planned to build a transshipment complex in the port of Ayan with a cargo turnover of up to 15 million tons per year.

- I think that people in this municipality were not fully told about the approaches to the creation of this production, the features of operation, the general effect. It was necessary to correctly build work with the population, explain how the technological process is built, how the storage of gas chemical products is organized, their transportation, show successful experiments, for example, using the example of New Zealand (methanol is produced in this country - EastRussia), when petrochemical and gas chemistry enterprises are located in ecologically clean areas and the population there is not experiencing problems.

Residents of the Ayano-Maisky district of the Khabarovsk Territory oppose the construction of a methanol plant
Photo: initiative group of residents of Ayano-Maisky district

We discussed the Sirius project at the 2019st Oil and Gas Forum of the Republic of Sakha in XNUMX. For Yakutia, first of all, it is interesting because it opens up the possibility of developing new gas fields (the Biryuksky, Kaderginsky, Mukhtinsky, Khoptolokhsky areas - EastRussia were considered as a resource base for the gas chemical park). For example, the construction of the Power of Siberia gas pipeline system and the start of operation at the Chayandinskoye oil and gas condensate field in the republic have been waiting for several decades. Perhaps in the future, Gazprom's plans will include the development of new subsoil plots, but why not consider other options for the development of the industry today, when there are structures that can unite subsoil users and monetize the potential of these fields.

As for the results of the last referendum, the cases when the population did not agree with the organization of this or that large-scale production took place in various regions of the country. First of all, here is the question to the initiators of the projects, how competently, popularly and widely through public contacts the details of the project are covered. Another aspect: the plans did not materialize, and who lost from this? Probably, some projects were really worth weeding out, but some could be launched. After all, these are new jobs, new taxes, new kindergartens and other social facilities.

Of course, the construction and operation of such facilities must be carried out in strict compliance with environmental standards. Recently, the Government of Yakutia hosted a meeting with environmental movements, social activists, and deputies. I attended it, and I can say that the introduction of environmental technologies in the manufacturing sector and environmental protection in the implementation of industrial projects should always be based on a constructive and open dialogue between the state, business and civil society.

- What other LNG production facilities may appear in Yakutia?

- Since 2018, we have had more than a dozen initiating companies in this area. As of today, the pool of potential investors has decreased. We are working closely with four companies that have clear projects, foreseeable prospects and, most importantly, have the necessary financial and human potential for implementation.

One of the projects is connected with JSC Sakhatransneftegaz, which, in addition to transporting gas, produces hydrocarbons in Western Yakutia. The company ordered the project, we expect the completion of its development by the end of 2021 and the commissioning of the facility in 2023. The first stage of the enterprise will be designed for 12,5 thousand tons of liquefied gas annually, the second will bring the total productivity up to 25 thousand tons.

I hope that everything will work out for the Yakutsk Fuel and Energy Company in organizing low-tonnage LNG production in the village of Kysyl-Syr, Vilyui ulus. The capacities there are estimated from 10 thousand to 20 thousand tons.

Another investor with whom we are working on the issue of creating such a production is JSC Atomenergomash. The company intends to locate the corresponding facilities in the village of Nizhniy Bestyakh. The first deliveries may start in 2023-2024. In this case, the implementation of the project is possible in partnership, and appropriate negotiations are already underway, with Sakhatransneftegaz JSC or with LNG LLC. The latter company has a gas liquefaction complex in the Megino-Kangalassky region. Its capacity, unfortunately, is not yet fully in demand (the first stage of the plant is designed for 7 thousand tons per year, the second - for 15 thousand tons - EastRussia), but we are working together to form the market. 

Natural gas supplied to the village of Berdigestyah
Photo Shoot: пRess service of the UGRS of Sakhatransneftegaz JSC

There are settlements close to the main gas pipelines, where it is possible to switch to natural gas at minimal cost. At the same time, we are working on the option of using LNG as an alternative to centralized gas supply for heating residential buildings and social facilities where it is not very economical to run a pipe and build gas distribution networks. We see about 30 such settlements here.

I want to say that when converting boiler houses to a new type of fuel, we do not want to receive another subsidized facility. Today in the republic there are very high subsidies to organizations of housing and communal services, and one of the pursued goals from gasification and LNG production is to reduce these subsidies. Due to the planned use of advanced technologies, the price of the new energy carrier will be competitive in terms of cost. This will improve demand not only in Yakutia, but also abroad. We are already conducting a dialogue with neighboring regions on LNG supplies.

- Yakutia had experience in organizing the export of liquefied gas: in 2019, LLC LNG for the first time sent cargo in cryogenic tank containers from the Nizhny Bestyakh railway station to Mongolia. Is this practice carried out today?

- Yes, they continue to cooperate. Mongolia is interested in supplying a new type of fuel for its boilers. There is a lot of coal in the country, but the environmental issue is important, especially in cities, including Ulaanbaatar. They are also interested in the topic of gas motor fuel, and LNG is well suited for this.

The first shipment of Russian liquefied natural gas by rail for export fromabout Nizhny Bestyakh station
Photo: JSC "Railways of Yakutia"
- How is the share of gas consumption changing in the fuel and energy balance of the republic? Will gas displace coal and fuel oil?

- At the end of March, at the head of Yakutia, Aisen Nikolaev, we considered the prospects for gasification. We presented a number of areas in which we need to work today. This is additional gasification of 30 settlements along the Power of Siberia pipeline. We are completing the connection in the villages where the pipe came, but some sections need to be completed. We are also solving the issue of gas shortages in Yakutsk in connection with the development of the city, the construction of new housing.

At the suggestion of the chairman of the government of Yakutia, Andrey Tarasenko, the option of using gas cylinders with propane-butane in food preparation is being considered, as was once common. We are trying to revive this story with YATEK and Sakhatransneftegaz.

In 2011, the share of natural gas consumption in the republic was in the region of 40%. In ten years, it has increased by 15 percentage points. Of course, this happened due to the expansion of gasification of settlements, at the same time, large industrial consumers, like mining enterprises in Western Yakutia, are betting on a new energy carrier. Already today, gas-fueled transport of such companies as Gazprom Dobycha Noyabrsk, ALROSA, RNG.

We expect that gold miners and coal miners of South Yakutia will follow their example. The effect of the same transfer of mining equipment to gas can be very significant. But the question of ecology also comes into play here. Elementary, the transition to gas minimizes the risks from possible spills of fuel oil, diesel fuel. This is also the purity of the air. Take Aldan, where a lot of boiler houses run on coal - the situation leaves the best. When utilities run on gas, the situation in the village is completely different, the standard of living is different. Therefore, with the Ministry of Housing and Utilities of Yakutia, we are studying various options for resolving the issue.

At the same time, coal companies still have good potential in foreign markets. It is clear that carbon neutrality in many countries sets a certain agenda today, but no one cancels the introduction of the latest technologies for the use of coal in the real sector of the economy.

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