Given the significant amount of helium in Chayanda gas condensate field in Yakutia, the development of which GAZPROM started under its Eastern Gas Program,Yakut scientists have propose to build an initial processing plant and an underground storage in the town of Lensk.
"The volume of helium to be processed requires an underground storage. However, our academic community believes that the plans of GAZPROM in this respect are not elaborated enough. The capacity of Belogorsk gas plant is small. Since helium won't be extracted in full, its significant quantities would be exported to China. It is in fact an irrational loss of the valuable components,"- said Alexander Safronov, Director of the Institute of Oil and Gas, RAS, at the round table in Yakutsk on November 12.
The scientists propose to construct an initial helium processing plant and an underground storage in the town of Lensk. According to Safronov, such underground storages can be set in the salt strata. "Irelyakhneft oil company has the experience of such construction in Mirny area,"- said Safronov.
However, according to Vladimir Pelipenko, CEO of Chayanda Oil and Gas Production Group "Gazprom Mining Noyabrsk", this technical solution is not appropriate; experts say that the geological features of Chayanda field make the use of the exisiting technology of constructing underground gas storage very difficult. "Under the project, we will drill 310 oil wells and 335 gas boreholes. The project uses a technology of helium separation with a membrane and further pumping it back into the reservoir. For the time being, the construction of an underground gas storage in the salt deposits is not possible," - he said.
Helium is an inert gas, extracted during the oil and gas development process with the low-temperature separation. It is used in metallurgical and food industries, in medicine. The world reserves of helium make about 46 billion cubic meters, with the United States being the world leader in the production. In Russia, the only producer of helium is "Gazprom mining Orenburg", a subsidiary of GAZPROM. In 2011, GAZPROM produced 3.5 million cubic meters of helium.
Yakut Sakha News Agency