Environmental and Occupational Safety of Arctic Shelf Development
The Company began the development of the Arctic shelf by producing oil in the Prirazlomnoye field. The production platform was designed and constructed subject to the landscape and climate conditions of the region so as to minimise technological and man-made impacts on the environment.
As a result, an unparalleled high-tech complex was created based on the best drilling, liquid hydrocarbon production and transportation developments, and subject to the highest HSE requirements, including offshore exclusive standards. The Prirazlomnaya safety programme addresses all possible ice, manmade and technological burdens.
Since the sea depth in the area of the field is relatively small, the platform is installed right on the seabed, secured by both its own weight (506,000 tonnes) and a stone berm. 120,000 tonnes of stone and gravel piled along the perimeter of the platform bottom also protect it from scouring.
The design features of Prirazlomnaya fully exclude any oil spills and blowouts during oil production and storage. Production wells do not come in contact with water due to being located inside the platform. A zero discharge system is employed at the platform. The system excludes the possibility of drilling and production waste getting into the sea. It will be pumped into special absorption wells or, if necessary, collected into tanks and delivered to the shore for further disposal. Reservoir and oil-contaminated waters will be pre-treated and also fed into the well.
A wet method of oil storage is used at the platform. The method eliminates the possibility of oxygen getting inside the tanks and thus prevents the creation of an explosive environment.
Shipment risks are also minimised to their lowest level. In order to pump the oil from platform oil tanks into oil vessels, special platform-based equipment for direct oil loading was developed. The loading block system goes off in seven seconds at most, making it possible to avoid accidental oil spills.
Before shipping, shuttle tankers equipped with a blow-loading system moor to the platform without contacting it. Oil vessels are equipped with dynamic positioning systems, which may anchor them despite the wind and wave loads. Super ice-class oil vessels with double hulls and a deadweight capacity of 70 thousand tonnes were specially designed for shipping oil from Prirazlomnaya.
Despite the platform is well protected in case of any emergencies, a set of additional protection measures was developed to keep the staff safe as well as the environment and the platform itself, including a plan for preventing and eliminating oil spills.
Three multitask icebreaking vessels are on permanent duty near the platform to ensure year-round platform service, cargo delivery and rescue and salvage operations. The vessels are designed to resist high ice loads and equipped with up-to-date skimmers to remove oil spills both in open water and in ice.