Big gas expected from the Arctic

According to Kommersant’s information, the potential resources of the Severo-Vrangelievsky license area, which Gazprom Neft and NOVATEK plan to develop jointly, are now estimated at 16.6 trillion cubic meters of gas and 900 million tons of condensate. According to experts, the companies will need about ten years to complete exploration and make a decision on development. The potential gigantic reserves of the site explain the partners’ desire to invest in its exploration, despite the inaccessibility and difficult ice conditions.

The resource estimate of the Severo-Wrangel licensed area, which is planned to be jointly developed in the Chukchi Sea by the JV Gazprom Neft (51%) and NOVATEK (49%) Gazpromneft-Sakhalin, may reach 16.6 trillion cubic meters, condensate – 900 million tons , say Kommersant’s sources familiar with the details of the project. Previously, the predicted resources of the site as of January 1, 2009 in category D2 for gas amounted to 994.4 billion cubic meters, for condensate – 210.9 million tons (geological), 137.1 million tons (recoverable). The estimate changed after the data was reinterpreted in 2020. Gazprom Neft is preparing to start 2D and 3D seismic surveys at the site from next year.

Gazprom Neft declined to comment, NOVATEK did not respond to Kommersant.

Gazprom Neft and NOVATEK agreed to set up a JV for the development of the Severo-Wrangel area on the shelf of the Chukchi Sea at SPIEF-2021. License for a plot with an area of ​​117.6 thousand sq. km, located in the waters of the East Siberian and Chukchi Seas, belongs to the structure of Gazprom Neft – Gazpromneft-Sakhalin. The sea depth within the site in the zone of location of promising structures is estimated at 20–90 m. The joint venture will become the only offshore partnership in the Arctic not frozen due to sanctions.

16.6 trillion cubic meters

may constitute the gas resources of the Severo-Wrangel area on the Arctic shelf

NOVATEK will pay about 1.6 billion rubles for its share, which should compensate for part of the historical costs of Gazprom Neft, says Kommersant’s source familiar with the terms of the deal. Further, the companies will invest in the joint venture in proportion to the shares. Under its licensing obligations, the joint venture is to drill the first well in the Severo-Wrangel area in 2027, and the second in 2029. The inaccessibility, difficult ice conditions and rather deep sea depth can make the development of the site technically extremely difficult and expensive.

The North-Wrangel license area is comparable in area with Iceland or Bulgaria, its resource base is estimated in non-localized resources of the D2 category, says Mikhail Grigoriev, head of the Gekon consulting center. The site is located in difficult ice conditions, partly within the Aion ice massif, which limits the time of work to the period from July to September. The complex of studies, including the drilling of two prospecting and appraisal wells, should be completed in 2029, and in 2030 the subsoil user must decide to continue work, the expert recalls. In fact, we are talking about a ten-year period for assessing the feasibility of the development of the site, which gives time for the development of technologies for both prospecting and exploration, and the development of deposits in difficult ice conditions, he believes. “We can say that the site occupies a good infrastructure position – already now it is crossed by one of the shipping routes of the Northern Sea Route,” notes Mr. Grigoriev.

Tatiana Dyatel, St. Petersburg; Dmitry Kozlov