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Marinina, O.; Nechitailo, A.; Stroykov, G.; Tsvetkova, A.; Reshneva, E.; Turovskaya, L. Electrification of Hydrocarbon Production Facilities in Underdeveloped Areas. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 09 December 2023).
Marinina O, Nechitailo A, Stroykov G, Tsvetkova A, Reshneva E, Turovskaya L. Electrification of Hydrocarbon Production Facilities in Underdeveloped Areas. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed December 09, 2023.
Marinina, Oksana, Anna Nechitailo, Gennady Stroykov, Anna Tsvetkova, Ekaterina Reshneva, Liudmila Turovskaya. "Electrification of Hydrocarbon Production Facilities in Underdeveloped Areas" Encyclopedia, (accessed December 09, 2023).
Marinina, O., Nechitailo, A., Stroykov, G., Tsvetkova, A., Reshneva, E., & Turovskaya, L.(2023, July 05). Electrification of Hydrocarbon Production Facilities in Underdeveloped Areas. In Encyclopedia.
Marinina, Oksana, et al. "Electrification of Hydrocarbon Production Facilities in Underdeveloped Areas." Encyclopedia. Web. 05 July, 2023.
Electrification of Hydrocarbon Production Facilities in Underdeveloped Areas

The relevance of the technical and economic evaluation of options for the optimization of electrification projects of hydrocarbon production facilities is due to the growing need for the development of new fields in undeveloped and hard-to-reach territories. Development of new fields requires the construction of large amounts of infrastructure energy facilities, new solutions to improve energy efficiency, reducing capital intensity of projects, solutions to improve the efficiency of resource use in the circular economy, and the use of renewable energy sources (RES). Analysis of the technological directions of electrification of hydrocarbon production facilities proves that the low level of application of RES for energy supply purposes is due to the lack of experimental data on the implementation of this kind of project. 

cost-effectiveness energy efficiency inaccessible areas renewable energy resource efficiency underdeveloped areas

1. Introduction

The vast majority of subsoil users, both globally and in Russia, use external resource sources of electrification for their production needs; that is, they connect production facilities to existing power nodes.
Against the background of the socio-economic upheavals of the past few years associated with the pandemic and the difficult geopolitical situation in the world, “green” trends in the development of production and the economy as a whole have gained momentum [1][2][3]. They have already had a significant impact on the activities of resource enterprises, regardless of their industry. Major international oil companies such as British Petroleum, Shell, Total, and Equinor have long positioned themselves as “integrated energy companies” in an effort to change consumer perceptions of themselves as purely extractive businesses. They are actively investing in the field of renewable energy sources and technologies to integrate them into their own production [4][5][6].
Recent studies by scientists note the actual opportunities of renewable energy sources to accelerate the production of hydrogen fuel, as well as the possibility of increasing the sustainable economic development of countries by realizing opportunities presented by the demographic dividend, the digital economy, and ensuring energy efficiency [7][8].
For Russian oil and gas producing companies, the tasks of energy efficiency become more complicated due to the geographical conditions of their resource potential, due to the location of fields in the Arctic zone, in the zone of the Russian shelf, where the infrastructure is poorly developed. At the same time, an extremely important aspect of oil and gas production is the uninterrupted and stable supply of production facilities with electricity at all stages of hydrocarbon production, from drilling wells to its processing and disposal [9][10][11].
The resource potential of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation (AZRF), according to the Ministry of Energy, is more than 35 billion tons of oil and 210 trillion m3 of gas. The main problem of electrification of hydrocarbon production facilities in the Arctic is the technological isolation of a large part of these territories from the Unified Energy System of Russia (UES of Russia) [12]. The remoteness of such Arctic and Far Eastern regions from the existing large energy hubs makes it practically impossible to use the UES as the main source of electricity for the needs of oil and gas production. The use of large energy hubs in the Arctic and Far Eastern regions for the needs of oil and gas production is difficult. Therefore, at this stage of infrastructure development, the only possible way out of the situation is the use of autonomous power generation facilities [13][14].
The increasing need to develop new fields in undeveloped and inaccessible areas makes it necessary for mining companies to build large infrastructure facilities, including power transmission lines and transformer systems, because it is impossible to connect them to the unified power grid. Therefore, operating companies face the challenge of improving the energy efficiency of the entire enterprise and reducing the capital intensity of field development projects located in underdeveloped areas.

2. An Overview of the Characteristics of Underdeveloped Areas in Russia

The state and operators of oil and gas projects are facing new organizational and managerial challenges, whose solution should increase the sustainability of hydrocarbon field development, ensuring the economic efficiency of all project participants, considering social factors of territorial development, ecological equilibrium, and technological development [15][16].
Within the context of this discussion, an underdeveloped area is understood as a territory of economically underdeveloped regions. They differ from underdeveloped areas by a comparatively low level of infrastructure and economic and demographic density under high natural-resource potential [17]. As a rule, the development of such territories is considerably affected by extreme natural conditions and the specificity of their geographical and geopolitical position. The territorial organization of the economy of underdeveloped regions has its own peculiarities. The main of which is the presence of an already established support base for further socio-economic and demographic development, but subsequent development is extremely slow [18][19][20].
The level of economic development of particular territories in Russia is directly related to historical aspects. The resource potential of the vast territories of Western and Eastern Siberia and the Far East was discovered relatively recently, around the beginning of the last century [21]. Since then, the level of development of these territories has made a significant leap forward, but harsh climatic conditions and considerable remoteness from the main economic and energy hubs have severely hampered further development. Apart from the obvious problem of the complete or partial lack of industrial (and in some cases also communal) infrastructure, which is the basis of sustainable economic and social development, socio-economically underdeveloped areas are now facing a situation that is considerably more difficult to solve. Due to the need to make significant investments in the economy of these regions, the creation of economic infrastructure on a specific production scale often falls on the owner of the production in question. The reasons for this current situation are not the subject herein but are certainly important for further research.
Within the framework of oil and gas production, due to its specificity of being strictly tied to a certain geographical location, the problem of creating or maintaining and developing already existing infrastructure elements is particularly acute. The Arctic zone of the Russian Federation should be singled out as a separate region, consisting almost entirely of underdeveloped territories of various constituent entities of the Russian Federation, as it is currently of major strategic interest to Russia due to its enormous resource potential [22][23][24].
The advantage and the challenge of developing the Arctic is the great potential for the development of the resource sector in a context where the continental base is gradually being depleted (the Arctic accounts for approximately 25% of the world’s undiscovered reserves) [25] and the creation of new transport and logistics systems would provide a direct route to the northern seas, paving alternative transit routes and redirecting the flow of global trade in a new way [26][27].
At the moment, the maximum interest of major oil and gas-producing companies is focused on the Nenets (#3), Vorkuta (#4), Yamalo-Nenets (#5), and Taimyr-Turukhan (#6) strongholds It is in these Arctic territories that the oil and gas industry is now the most developed compared to others. Gradually, interest in the production and resource potential of the North-Yakutian (#7) support zone is beginning to grow. However, at the moment, the development of the oil and gas industry in the area is hampered, firstly, by the lack of full-fledged industrial infrastructure elements, and secondly, by a lack of exploration data due to the small amount of research being carried out [26]. According to Rosneft [28], major discoveries are expected in the northern regions of Western Siberia and in the western part of the Yenisei-Khatanga Trough, adjacent areas of the Irkutsk Region and Yakutia. Here, over the past few years, there has been a multiple increase in the success rate of exploratory drilling.
The resource potential of the Arctic zone, according to the Russian Ministry of Energy [29], is more than 35 billion tons of oil and 210 trillion cubic meters of gas. According to the Ministry for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic for 2020, the AZRF contributes approximately 10% of Russia’s GDP (gross domestic product) from oil and gas production and 10% of total investment and also has a high rate of labor productivity growth. At the same time, the region is home to 1.5% of the country’s population. Overall, the regions of the Arctic and the Far East have considerable resource potential, which makes them a focus for both state and oil and gas interests.

3. Main Problems of Electrification of Hydrocarbon Production Facilities in Underdeveloped Areas

The main problem in the electrification of hydrocarbon production facilities in underdeveloped areas, as mentioned above, is the low level of coverage of these areas by the Unified Energy System. The remoteness of the Arctic and Far Eastern regions from the existing large energy hubs makes it practically impossible to use the UES as the main source of electric power for the needs of oil and gas production. Therefore, at this stage of infrastructure development, the only possible way out is the use of autonomous power generation facilities [30][31]. However, the design and installation of such facilities are also a separate problem.
Power generation is usually associated with the generation of a huge amount of thermal energy; additional engineering surveys are required to deal with permafrost soils prevailing in the areas in question. When building on permafrost soils, depending on the design and technological features of buildings and structures, engineering and geocryological conditions, and the possibility of purposeful change of foundation soil properties, one of the following principles of using permafrost soils as a foundation for structures is applied [32]:
  • Principle I—permafrost soils are used in a frozen or freezing state, preserved during construction and throughout the operation of the structure;
  • Principle II—permafrost soils are used in a thawed or thawing state (with preliminary thawing to the design depth prior to the construction of the structure or with the assumption of their thawing during the operation of the structure).
When using permafrost soils as bases for structures under Principle I, in order to preserve the frozen state of the foundation soils and ensure their thermal design regime, the following must be included in the designs of foundations and bases: ventilated basements or cold ground floors of buildings, laying ventilated pipes, channels or using ventilated foundations in the foundation of structures, installation of seasonally operating cooling devices of liquid or steam-liquid type, as well as implementing other measures (heat shields, etc.) to eliminate or reduce the thermal impact of the structure on the frozen soils of the base.
When designing bases and foundations for buildings and structures erected using permafrost soils according to Principle II, measures to reduce foundation deformation or measures to adapt the structure to absorb uneven foundation deformation should be envisaged and determined based on the results of the foundation deformation calculation.
In addition to permafrost, difficult climatic conditions, in general, are a significant obstacle to any engineering work. The selection of the required equipment, materials for its construction, and the choice of design features must be tailored to the operating conditions. It has to be taken into account that maintenance of complex engineering structures will also potentially be difficult due to the seasonality of transport in the region.
All of the lithological and climatic features of the Russian Arctic, as mentioned above, lead to a significant increase in the cost of any capital construction in the area. For the electricity supply sector, a significant share of investment, in addition to the cost of constructing and operating power sources (power plants), is in the construction of the electricity distribution network (transmission lines and transformer converters). For example, the average cost of tenders for the construction of transmission lines and related installation works in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District is higher than in the neighboring, more southern Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District by approximately 19% and compared to the even more southern Tomsk Region by almost 28% (see Table 1, Figure 1).
Figure 1. Average cost of tenders for transmission line construction and installation works in three constituent entities of the Russian Federation in Western Siberia: Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District (yellow), Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District (pink), and Tomsk Region (green). Source: compiled based on data in [33].
Table 1. Data on cost and number of tenders for transmission line construction and related installation works. Source: compiled based on data in [33].

4. An Overview of Modern Technologies for the Electrification of Hydrocarbon Production Facilities in Poorly Developed or Hard-to-Reach Areas

Many researchers [34][35][36] note the importance of effective infrastructure planning and cost optimization at the project initiation stage. The main problem here is to take into account as complete a set of information as possible about the oil and gas production facilities in operation, from the required capacity for energy consumers to the properties of the produced hydrocarbons. There are many different tools and methods aimed at its solution [31][37][38]. In a previous study [39], the authors identified the current global trends of electrification and power supply and identified the specifics of using modern technologies for the electrification of hydrocarbon production facilities in poorly developed or hard-to-reach territories of Russia.
In the previous work [30][39], the current level of scientific and technological development and environmental requirements in terms of electrification of hydrocarbon production facilities allows the following directions: the use of power units based on gas fuel (natural gas or associated petroleum gas (APG)); integration of RES and their combinations with traditional types of power supply; the association of several facilities (offshore platforms) into a single power network and the creation of additional power centers.
The main advantage of using APG, the internal power source, as the main fuel cell over similar diesel plants is that there is no need to organize regular fuel supply chains. This has a significant impact on the cost-effectiveness of electrification projects when the production facilities are located remotely [40][41][42].
Associated petroleum gas, or APG, is a mixture of various gaseous hydrocarbons dissolved in oil, released during its production and treatment. The main problem with associated gas, which greatly complicates its use as a marketable extraction product, is its component composition. APG consists essentially of methane and ethane but also has a large proportion of propane, butane, and vapors of heavier hydrocarbons. A separate problem is the presence of a high-molecular-weight liquid in different phase states.
Due to the high cost of APG treatment and processing equipment, which, due to the previously mentioned characteristics of the feedstock, must be tailored on a case-by-case basis to the specific gas composition, until recently, the main method of APG utilization was simply flaring in unlimited quantities. Other reasons for flaring a valuable hydrocarbon resource include the need to build separate gas pipeline systems to transport it and the lack of a gas consumer as such for a number of oil fields.
A turning point in the beneficial use of APG came with the adoption of the so-called Kyoto Protocol. The signatories to the protocol made quantitative commitments to reduce emissions of six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). The first three are part of associated petroleum gas and its products of combustion, and according to some researchers [43], they are the ones that have the greatest impact on the greenhouse effect.
Over the last 10 years, the level of utilization of associated petroleum gas has largely determined the development efficiency of the entire oil and gas complex of a country. The use of APG is a marker for government and business in terms of integrated subsoil development, utilization of raw materials, and environmental safety [44].
Statistics on the use of APG in the world in 2020 according to the International Energy Agency show that the main leaders in the processing and use of APG are in North America, and the worst situation is in Africa [45][46].
In Russia, the need to control APG flaring was raised just over 10 years ago. In 1995, the volume of associated petroleum gas produced in the Russian Federation was 25 billion cubic meters; in 2007, it was 48.6 billion cubic meters. With the increase in volumes, combustion volumes and, consequently, harmful emissions into the atmosphere have increased. In 2010, only 30% of associated gas was sent for processing; the remaining 70% was flared by Russian oil companies [47]. According to the Ministry of Energy [48], the industry-wide utilization of associated petroleum gas in the Russian Federation increased by 1.1 p.p. to 82.6% in 2020 compared to the previous year. Two types of APG-fired power plants are currently used in the oil and gas industry in Russia and worldwide: gas turbine power plants and gas piston units (GPU). More often, when companies need to create a so-called internal source of power, it is the gas turbine power plant that is used, as the cost of the plant for equal power output is somewhat lower than that of its piston counterpart, as well as the sensitivity of turbines to the composition of the fuel used, which in the case of APG is a critical indicator [44].
There are many scientific papers and publications on the efficiency of energy supply for oil and gas field facilities using associated petroleum gas as an energy carrier [49][50][51]. At the moment, GTPP is actively and successfully used at remote enterprises from the main nodes of the unified energy system of the Russian Federation. However, in the last few years, research papers devoted to the improvement of existing autonomous power supply systems based on APG, as well as solving a number of problems of their operation in accordance with the accumulated experience, have naturally started to appear. For example, one of these problems is the dependence of GTPP efficiency on ambient temperature [52][53][54]. Some researchers also point to the high level of CO2 emissions during operation as the main problem of GTPPs [31][55][56].
Promising ideas in this direction seem to be the use of thermal energy in the cooling system for energy distribution in accordance with workloads and the needs of consumers, as well as a more specific technology for creating cogeneration plants with a binary cycle of electricity generation and trigeneration systems, involving the use not only of thermal energy in the GTPP but also the energy of exhaust gas in the GPU to improve its efficiency through the regulation of the temperature regime [30][48].
According to the new energy strategy of the Russian Federation (RF), the use of primary energy in electricity generation for the needs of industrial enterprises should be reduced through the use of secondary energy resources [29]. In the context of oil and gas production, such secondary energy resources are not only APG but also GPU waste gas and thermal energy generated by these units during operation.
Against the backdrop of the social and economic upheaval of the past few years due to the pandemic and the complex geopolitical environment in the world, ideas of a new energy transition and the so-called ‘green’ trends in production and overall economic development have gained momentum [57]. This trend has already had a significant impact on resource companies regardless of their industry.
In the upstream oil and gas sector, large corporate actors are actively demonstrating their commitment to supporting action on climate change and energy sustainability [5][58]. As a demonstration of this position, oil and gas corporations are resorting to measures such as the overall reduction of emissions through modernization and upgrading of existing equipment, improving the energy efficiency of production, as well as conducting numerous studies and introducing new technological solutions aimed directly at the environmental reorientation of production cycles [1][4].
The main problem with renewable energy sources is their high relative cost compared to conventional sources. Although there has been a downward trend in the cost per MWh of electricity from renewables over the past 10 years, the oil and gas industry is wary of actively integrating green technologies into production [59].
The most promising areas for the use of RES as energy sources in hydrocarbon production facilities are wind power generation and the use of solar photovoltaic cells.
Many researchers [31][60][61] point out that a significant problem with the use of RES is the fact that their stand-alone use cannot guarantee the necessary amount of electricity without an additional power source at all times. The amount of electricity will vary over time with an arbitrary character, and its qualitative characteristics, such as amplitude, frequency, and voltage curve shape, will also be unstable due to environmental factors that directly determine the performance of PV cells and wind turbine generators.
A solution, which has already proven to be cost-effective [31], is to combine wind generation technologies with solar power and to supply the structure with additional power sources in the form of batteries [62][63]. It has been proven that the territories of northern Eastern Siberia, where the main actively developed oil and gas clusters are now located, represent an area with unique climatic conditions for the integration of these RESs. Industry leaders, represented by Gazprom and Rosneft, have already announced the creation of a large wind power generation hub to serve the Vankor cluster and the recently discovered large gas field in Taimyr [64].
A separate promising area is the use of gas production automation complexes with integrated RES in northern fields [61]. The main advantage of this technology is the possibility of transferring the power source directly to the well, thereby significantly reducing the amount of capital expenditure on infrastructure. As mentioned earlier, for all the specifics of construction processes in the Arctic zone, a solution that allows us to avoid the creation of additional power lines is required.
Principles of creation, management, and economics of power complexes based on renewable energy sources for decentralized power supply, as well as materials and technologies used in the production of equipment for power generation systems operating in harsh climatic conditions, including in northern regions, were considered in the works of authors from St. Petersburg Polytechnic University [65][66] and other authors [67]. It is also worth noting that many international studies aimed at developing autonomous power supply systems in the isolated mode for reliable power supply from renewable sources and a combination of energy types, depending on the required installed capacity and geographical location of power consumption facilities [68][69][70].
Based on the above, there is a need for the modernization of power supply systems of remote power consumption facilities, including oil and gas production facilities located in the underdeveloped area in the Arctic regions, using modern energy-efficient technologies, including power plants based on renewable energy sources. Therefore, the development of hybrid automated systems based on RES and technologies and measures aimed at adaptation to such conditions is an important task for the sustainable development of energy supply systems based on renewable energy sources.


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