Oil production and shipment

The project to develop first Russian Arctic oil entered an active stage in the middle of 2013. The Prirazlomnaya ice-resistant stationary platform provides for all technological operations: well drilling, extraction, storage, preparation and shipment of oil to tankers, generation of heat and electric power. The Prirazlomnaya is the first stationary platform in the world to produce oil on the Arctic shelf in difficult conditions of drifting ice fields.

The foundation of the platform is a caisson of unique design, which bears the main load. Reliable operations of the whole platform depend on it. The caisson allows the Prirazlomnaya to sustain Arctic climate, protect equipment and ensure safe operations by the personnel. The caisson is 24.3 meters high which equals a nine-story building.

The Prirazlomnaya caisson accommodates a 16-section oil storage with all other technological complexes and systems of the platform located above it. The tanks of the storage keep the crude in a wet state, i.e. they are constantly filled either with oil or water. The storage method rules out any explosive environment which additionally guarantees platform safety.

The Prirazlomnaya is equipped with two direct oil shipment complexes (KUPON) which operate with cranes and load tankers from the platform’s oil storage. The KUPONs are located at different sides of the platform to allow easy approach by tankers in any weather or navigation conditions.

KUPON devices have a special intake in the front. Oil is shipped through one of them depending on the outside pressure of the rough sea, drifting ice, currents and wind. The KUPON monitors the movement of the tanker in a 180-angle section. In case it deviates from the sector operated by one device the tanker has to de-berth and sail to the other KUPON.

Oil shipment scheme

Specific attention is paid to safety. Oil shipment begins only in case 30 requirements are observed at a time. Oil pumping line to the tanker is equipped with an emergency shutdown system, which if necessary stops the shipment immediately in seven seconds at the utmost.

Before the beginning of shipments the shuttle Mikhail Ulyanov and Kirill Lavrov tankers equipped with a bow loading system make non-contact berthing when the distance between the tanker and the platform comprises 80 plus minus 6 meters. To rule out accidental collision with the platform they have a dynamic positioning system, which keeps the tanker onsite despite wind and waves. The loading speed may reach up to 10 thousand cubic meters per hour, which means a tanker can be loaded with ARCO crude in 8–9 hours. Specialized vessels with the latest powerful emergency oil-skimming equipment for winter conditions are on permanent duty at the platform.

The new crude produced at Prirazlomnoye field is called ARCO or Arctic oil. It was for the first time delivered to the world market in April 2014.

ARCO is distinguished by high density (close to 20 API), sulfur content of close to 2.3 percent and low paraffin content. It is relatively heavy compared to ordinary exported Russian oil and is well fit for refining by enterprises in the northwest of Europe. Unique chemical products for road construction, tire production, space and pharmaceutical industry are made of it.

New crude