Yamal LNG, A major logistical challenge

Western Siberia, the Yamal peninsula. With its Russian partner Novatek, Total participates in the development of the giant South Tambey gas field. Here, at the Yamal LNG plant, 16,5 million ton of liquefied natural gas will be produced annually, before being shipped to Europe and Asia.

Date: Aug. 29, 2013

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Voice-over Western Siberia, the Yamal peninsula. With its Russian partner Novatek, Total participates in the development of the giant South Tambey gas field. Here, at the Yamal LNG plant, 16,5 million ton of liquefied natural gas will be produced annually, before being shipped to Europe and Asia. 

Interview “Yamal LNG is the very first Arctic LNG project in the world. It is pioneering. It means constructing an LNG plant on permafrost soil, on piles, and sending out ships on a route that is largely unexplored today…” 

Voice-over For three—quarters of the year, the Ob estuary where the site is located can be navigated only by ice-breakers. In these long winter months, light is scarce. An icy wind reigns over the terrain, making temperatures drop. To ensure the safety of the crews in these conditions, working hours are adapted. 

Interview “And yet what we achieve today, thanks to the experience of the Russians, is to work normally every day. It is -30°C outside, there is a 50 km/h wind, but people are dressed adequately, working areas are protected, we take extra care for our people. I think everyone who works here is hyper-conscious of the difficulties of the environment. This generates extra attention. It consolidates the teams as well. We achieve a very high efficiency even in these extremely arduous conditions."

Voice-over Constructing a large size LNG plant at an isolated site with limited access demands an optimization of resources and extremely rigorous planning. To achieve this, the project team has chosen the method of modular construction. 

Interview “Everything that can easily be constructed on site, requiring limited manpower, we’ll do on site. When it comes to more complex and very heavy constructions, that take more time, it is better to optimize working hours by carrying out the construction in yards where it is dry and warm.” 

Voice-over Built in selected yards in Russia and the entire world, these modules are then stored in transshipment ports, waiting for the last leg of their journey during the favorable seasons. 

Interview “The big-tonnage modules will arrive at the seaport where they will be unloaded, before they are mounted on site. Everything will be ready, verified and tested at the manufacturer. All we will have to do is to make the connections and adjust the settings.” 

Voice-over On a soil that is permanently frozen over depths of hundreds of meters, ensuring the stability of the LNG plant is another challenge. To avoid transferring the heat and vibrations of the machines to the frozen subsoil, the modules will rest on some 4 800 piles. These techniques of building on permafrost are well known in Siberia but have never been deployed on such a scale. The same goes for managing the various types of ice that are omnipresent. Dredging, anti-ice barriers, air curtains, circulation of small icebreakers… everything is being considered to ensure accessibility and functioning of the port, during plant construction as well as later on, when LNG is exported. At that stage, a new type of ice-breaker tanker will dock here every 40 hours. To make the Yamal LNG project a success, Total and its partner Novatek are working closely with the local government. Opening up the commercial port of Sabetta, as well as an airport with the capacity to receive large carriers, will encourage the development of the Siberian peninsula of Yamal. 

Interview 1 “By proving that this technology works, that it is possible to operate an LNG plant in this region, new resources will be unlocked.”

Interview 2“We are developing a whole region of Russia, the whole Arctic front, which will have a growing geopolitical and geostrategic importance. We contribute to this evolution; we contribute to outlining this development in Russia. It is a situation that is very exciting for all of us.”