Construction of a pipeline connecting the Messoyakhskoye group of oil fields to the northernmost point of the Zapolyarye-Purpe oil transportation system is seeing full use of cutting-edge technologies — specifically the use of semi-automatic and automatic welding — in the laying of pressure pipelines. This will guarantee the high quality of pipe-to-pipe jointing, ensuring the stable functional reliability of the oil pipeline. Additional control over the security of the facility will be provided through the use of a fibre-optic cable underlying the length of the route, allowing any risk or danger of depressurisation within the system to be recorded.
Semi-automatic and automatic welding has, thus far, been applied mainly in the construction of major trunk pipelines — the main difference from traditional hand welding lying in the use of equipment vis-à-vis the manual loading of parts into the welding fixture. In the case of semi-automatic welding, the foreman manually moves the welding rod along the joint, whereas under automated welding the equipment is automatically set into the conduit and moved along the jointing, ensuring it is evenly filled with metal. Scrappage under this system is thus minimised, insofar as scope for mistakes (through human error) are reduced to almost zero. Ensuring the full reliability of the welded joint requires it to be heated to 100°C before starting work. The application of an induction process speeds up this process. While heating up the joint with the assistance of a circular burner in minus-40-degree frost would normally take 20 minutes, the equipment used at the Messoyakha allows the necessary temperature to be reached in four minutes. Joint reliability is also improved through the use of a special gas which, applied to the weld, protects the molten metal from oxidation and removes contaminants such as hydrogen and sulphur.
The air-tightness and impermeability of the pipeline is ensured by its being equipped with a leak-detection system, with a fibre-optic cable recording any change in temperature underneath the pipeline. In addition to this, the main trunk pipeline will be equipped with fire and security protection systems, as well as a video surveillance system, along its entire length. Construction of the pipeline is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.
The Messoyakhskoye group of fields include the Vostochno (Eastern) and Zapadno (Western) Messoyakhskoye acreages — the northernmost onshore oilfields in Russia. Licences for prospecting and development at both fields are held by Messoyakhaneftegaz, jointly owned by Rosneft and Gazprom Neft. Gazprom Neft is the operator on the project.
The Messoyakha fields, first discovered in the 1980s, are located in the Gydan Peninsula, in the Tazovsky district of the Yamalo-Nenetsk Autonomous Region, 340 kilometres north of Novy Urengoy, in Russia’s Arctic zone — a region of considerably underdeveloped infrastructure. Proven C1 and C2 reserves indicate 480 million tonnes of oil and gas condensate, as well as more than 480 billion cubic metres of natural and associated gas. Pilot operations at Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye saw the first oil from this field produced in October 2012.
Within Gazprom Neft, preparations to bring the Messoyakhskoye fields into production are being managed by the office of Messoyakha, part of Gazpromneft Razvitiye, responsible for the management of major projects on behalf of the parent company.