Gazprom will think how to circumvent US sanctions

The gas corporation wants to develop the South Kirinskoye field on the Sakhalin shelf. But this requires modern Western equipment and technology.
Gazprom intends to attract foreign equipment for the underwater development of the giant South Kirinskoye field on the Sakhalin shelf, although the project is under US sanctions. The main producers of such equipment are companies from the US and the EU that will not agree to supply it to Gazprom openly. According to the interlocutors of Kommersant, the monopoly can count either on Chinese equipment, or, in theory, on a deal through an intermediary who will purchase Western equipment and take the risk of sanctions.

"Gazprom" hopes in 2019 to install a foreign fountain valve for four production wells at the Yuzhno-Kirinskoye field, which will begin drilling in mid-June, a member of the company's board Vsevolod Cherepanov said on Monday. According to him, this year Gazprom will drill these wells "up to the roof of the productive horizon," that is, they will not be finished. In 2019, if Gazprom receives an underwater Christmas tree fountain (so-called Christmas tree, put at the mouth of the well), it will install it. "If not, we will continue to implement the plan to drill to the roof until the moment this equipment appears. The supplier will, I venture to say, the Russian company, "said the top manager. He added that the first 8-12 wells will be imported equipment. So, obviously, we are talking about a gasket company that will buy foreign equipment and sell it to Gazprom, assuming the risk of imposing sanctions.

Yuzhno-Kirinskoye is one of the largest offshore fields of Gazprom, its recoverable reserves are 711 billion cubic meters of gas and 111 million tons of condensate, the reserves are expected to grow in the last exploration. It is planned to drill 37 production wells, production will start in 2023 and will reach the "shelf" of 21 billion cubic meters per year by 2034. Options for gas monetization have not yet been selected - initially, Gazprom planned to supply part of the gas to the domestic market, and the bulk volume to liquefy together with Shell. But after imposing sanctions against the field in August 2015, Gazprom began active negotiations on the supply of this gas to China via a pipe from Sakhalin.

Underwater equipment is necessary for the development of South Kirin, since the depth of the sea, the distance from the coast and the ice regime make development from the platform extremely difficult. In addition to the fountain fittings, Gazprom needs a manifold (a collection point where gas and reagent flows are distributed), umbilicals (for remote control), underwater robots and software. The global market for this equipment is divided between American FMC Technologies, One Subsea (structure of Schlumberger), GE and Norwegian Aker Solutions. Although Gazprom is working on import substitution (together with Roskosmos and Rubin Central Design Bureau), he does not count on the rapid appearance of Russian equipment, judging by Mr. Cherepanov's words. Meanwhile, Gazprom in the coming years needs gas for supply to local consumers, for which the gas pipeline is already expanding to Vladivostok.

According to the interlocutors of "Kommersant" in the industry, the company has two ways - either purchase a Christmas tree of unknown quality from the Chinese, or organize a scheme to circumvent sanctions with one of the European suppliers. The latter option is very difficult, since such equipment is produced for a specific project and the situation can become a repetition of the conflict around the supply of Siemens turbines to the Crimea.

In China, the underwater Christmas tree fountain is produced by MSP / Drilex, it is already used on the local shelf for the Luhua project (operator CNOOC). "The Chinese can supply equipment to Gazprom, despite the sanctions, if the conditions are attractive," says Alexander Gabuev, head of the Asian program at the Carnegie Moscow Center. He reminds that Chinese companies have supplied a cable for the energy bridge to the Crimea. "There is a proven technology - they create a sufficient number of gasket companies, and when a company from this chain falls under sanctions, a new one is being created," says Alexander Gabuev.