Thursday, January 29, 2009

Looking for Bovanenkovo

Sometimes it is hard to understand just how difficult it might be to get new supplies of natural gas to the market. When we talk of additional gas supplies to the Eastern half of the United States, for example through the new Rockies Express Pipeline, the line runs through relatively flat country. There was not a lot of problem laying the pipe through the farmlands from Wyoming, to Audrain County, MO – where the Western leg terminated, and which was in operation carrying up to 1.5 billion cfd through the 42-inch line last year. The line is on schedule to arrive in Lebanon, Ohio this Spring. Following the line of the pipe over Google Earth the cultivated land over which it travels, and it is clear why it will only take a few months to complete the 638 mile second leg.

Contrast that with the problems that face the Russians in bringing in the new pipelines from the Yamal Peninsula., and in particular the Bovanenkovo Field. I have taken a leaf out of JoulesBurn’s book who, with Satellite o’er the Desert, looked down on Saudi Arabia, and was able to see where the current wells were being drilled. And so I took the same merry carrier (Google Earth) to help me take a drive up to the Yamal woods.

One could begin at Nadym, on the pipeline that heads West (65 32 06 N 72 32 36 E) and select some of the local transport to head North.

(Igor V. Nelaev on Google Earth)

But mainly we first have to head East, though Pravokhettinskiy to cross the rivers by the available bridges. And so one comes to Pangody. (One of the interesting symbols of modern technology is not just that one can follow along this route, but those that live there have uploaded photos of the town, and the things they find of interest. Schools and Hospitals however are not that that exciting to the rest of us - but then we have more of them).

Alternately one can continue down the river a short way and will come to the path through the taiga that is being driven for the pipelines North. It also passes through Pravokhettinskiy but runs more directly North, with branches off to fields on either side as it progresses.

And so one comes to the current well operations (at around 68 07'23.46 N 75 44 20 E ) which are near Yamburg (67 54 18 N 74 51 15 E) But here, where the land is covered with lakes and streams, and the permafrost lies just below the surface, the paths of the pipeline are not as easily hidden. And though it is easy and interesting to “drive” along the road from Yamburg down to Novy Urengoy passing the wells at Urengoy along the way, the pictures that are also up on Google Earth show how grim the life must be there at this time of year.

The Road North (Cyress78 on Google Earth)

This part of the world, while the terrain is difficult, is still sufficiently developed that one can see the paths of the pipes and there are a number of towns and villages already established.

It is a little different when one goes looking for the next major field to be developed, which is Boyanenko. First we have to cross the Ob Bay, and then continue West until we reach the Kara Sea.

If we head North along the coast it is seems very flat, and again the ground is striated with water, in lakes and winding rivers.

(by gidroms on Google Earth)

And then we come to a small village by the sea, where there seem to be no connecting roads out that go much more than ten kilometers or so, but whuch has an airport and a sign that says it is 100 km from Bovanenkovo, if I read my Russian right. But there is no development around that is visible.

(Sergey81 on Google Earth)

And so one suspects, just looking at this terrain, and the likely working conditions, that it will be quite considerably longer before the field starts producing gas and sending it south and west. Working conditions don’t look that exciting.

(At 66 57 21 N 76 10 26 E on Goggle Earth)

It looks colder even than here, and yet a place where it is easier to work in the winter than the summer - which is a good cue to go stoke the fire.


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