Novatek adds several trillion cubic meters to its Arctic reserves

The Russian natural gas giant continues to obtain new licenses in the region.

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - January 9, 2020
Leonid Mikhelson, head of the Russian natural gas company Novatek, attends an Arctic conference in St. Petersburg. (Atle Staalesen / The Independent Barents Observer)

The remote Yamal and Gydan peninsulas are becoming increasingly important for Russia’s energy sector as several huge fields are added to the project portfolio of the country’s biggest oil and gas companies.

The tundra lands located along the northern parts of the Kara Sea hold what appears as an endless pool of natural gas.

This is now the top priority region of Novatek, the company that is owned and managed by Russia’s richest man, Leonid Mikhelson. The powerful natural gas baron and his company has over several years invested huge sums in regional fields and in late 2017 opened its Yamal LNG project.

That, however, was only the first joint in what ultimately will be a chain of new Arctic installations and plants.

New big fields

In the course of 2019, Novatek won several new licenses to fields in the area. The latest of the acquisitions is the Bukharinskoye, a field located partly on land, partly offshore, in the Gydan Peninsula and adjacent Gulf of Ob.

On December 27, the regional subsidiary company Arctic LNG 1 won the right to exploit the huge Arctic natural gas field, which holds an estimated 1.19 trillion cubic meters of gas and 74 million tons of liquid hydrocarbons.

The resources of the new license area allow the company to boost reserves and pave the way for more LNG projects, similar to the Arctic LNG 2, Novatek says.

Novatek intends to start production at the Arctic LNG 2 in 2022. The project will ultimately produce 19.8 million tons of liquified natural gas per year. That comes in addition to the more than 17 million tons annually produced at the Yamal LNG project.

The Bukharinskoye follows the acquisition of the Vostochno-Ladertoyskoye field in mid-December. The fields holds an estimated 184 billion cubic meters of reserves.

The biggest acquisition of the year was the Soletsko-Khanaveyskoye field that holds as much as 2.18 trillion cubic meters of gas.

In May, another three license areas were obtained in the northern part of the Krasnoyarsk region, an area located east of the Gydan Peninsula.

Vast reserves

All together, Novatek’s license acquisitions in the region in 2019 most likely amounted to more than 4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. That is about 8 times the total annual consumption of the European Union. The EU in 2018 consumed 458.5 billion cubic meters of gas, of which 155 billion was imported from Russia.

Novatek now has more that 55 field licenses in the far northern Yamal-Nenets region, many of them situated near the Gulf of Ob and the Yenisey River.

A key part of the natural gas produced in Yamal and Gydan are aimed at the EU market. Novatek is exporting a big part of its Yamal LNG to EU countries and Gazprom has built new powerful pipelines, among them the Bovanenkovo-Ukhta and the Nord Stream, are linked with Europe.

That comes in addition to the regional reserves possessed by Gazprom. The state natural gas company has a license portfolio in the Yamal Peninsula that totals 32 field licenses with resources exceeding 26 trillion cubic meters. The biggest of the company’s regional fields, the Bovanenkovo, holds about 4.9 trillion, and is now operated at full capacity.