Gazprom’s Arctic rig had a narrow escape from the storm

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Feature story - 21 November, 2014
Gazprom’s drilling rig GSP Saturn that was damaged in an Arctic storm returned to the port of Murmansk on November 19th. It had been stuck in the storm in the Pechora Sea for a week.

An industry expert that preferred not to be named said that GSP Saturn had a narrow escape with minor damages (the helideck was damaged and a lifeboat lost).

“This kind of damage could have been caused by 5-meters high waves and 25 meters/second wind. Traveling in the Barents Sea, I have experienced much worse, waves over 20 meters high and winds up to 60 meters per second. I believe that the rig got into trouble because it had not left earlier, in October, before the stormy season started”.

"Drilling in the Arctic is like playing Russian roulette. With unpredictable weather, and some of the most severe conditions in the world, accidents are inevitable. Add to that the weak state regulation in Russia and negligence towards safety typical of many oil giants, and we should get ready for a catastrophe", says Vladimir Chuprov, head of Greenpeace Russia Energy Unit.

"The accident at GSP Saturn revealed another problem: lack of transparency in Arctic operations. The damages to Gazprom’s rig became known only several days later. Ship owner, Romanian firm GSP, tried to deny it. Oil companies often try to conceal accidents, for instance those they experience onshore. But it is much easier for them to conceal accidents in the middle of the Barents sea, hundreds miles away from any independent watch", - says Chuprov.

Gazprom by now has found no oil at Dolginskoe field in the Pechora sea. Some gas reserves were discovered, but gas production in this remote area is not economically feasible in the foreseen future. The company expects to start production here by 2021.

Industry experts say if oil prices remain below 80 dollars per barrel, even with huge tax reliefs provided by the state, the project will lose economic feasibility.

GSP Saturn Arrives in Murmansk © Gleb Paikachev / Greenpeace

 

© Gleb Paikachev / Greenpeace

 

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