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11 Jul, 2008 04:13

Oil platforms give Sevmash new lease of life

A Russian company will complete construction of one of the most unique offshore oil platforms by 2010. Sevmash, on the White Sea, used to make the world's biggest nuclear submarines, but now its helping to fulfill Russia's quest for new oil and gas fields

The number one task for the Russian energy industry is to shore up Russia's flagging hydrocarbons output, as production threatens to fall at existing fields. The future of the industry lies in offshore Arctic fields. experts say to sustain the current level of output, drilling offshore is inevitable, and Viktor Mishnyakov, Senior Oil and Gas Analyst, at UralSib, Moscow, says this underlines the sectors importance.

This business is very important for Russia in the future.  If we assume that Russia within ten year, fifteen year will develop the arctic offshore zones. Its currently already developing the offshore of Sakhalin, and there are businesses in the Caspian sea.  This platform construction segment will be of extreme importance.

Just a decade ago Russia’s biggest energy companies hardly invested in long-scale offshore oil deposits. Currently, it is the only possible way for them to stay competitive. Russia's offshore reserves are enormous, but difficult to extract due to deep water and sea-ice in winter. That requires specialist installations, like rigs, supply vessels and semi-submersible platforms.

This plant behind me is Russia’s biggest ship yard, which used to build mainly nuclear submarines and has lost much of its defense work. But now the Sevmash yard is gaining a new lease of life, producing the vital oil platforms essential to development of Russia’s Arctic offshore fields. The Prirazlomnaya oil platform is unique for several reasons, primarily as it can work in extreme weather conditions – for example minus 50 degrees.

The way the platform works is simple – its fixed in the open sea, it loads the ships with extracted oil once every three days and then this oil goes to the port of Murmansk where its loaded onto tankers. The project, fully funded by Gazprom, will have a capacity of up to 80 million tones of extracted resources within a decade.

Valery Borodin, deputy director at SevMash says the plant has already completed platform projects for foreign customers – primarily Norway's Moss Mosvold Platform – and thats only the beginning.

The Stockman project is a very serious and difficult one. We already have some experience in constructing special oil platforms. And I think within the next year we will carefully study other possible projects for us, and then start producing the same platforms for the Stockman field.

Sevmash is ideally situated to provide platforms for Stockman. With Russia looking north for its future energy production, the yard is likely to be a busy place in future.