China To Supply Key Turbines to Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2

Utrenney GBS.
Graphic showing how the three gravity-bases structures (GBS) will be integrated into the rest of the Arctic LNG 2 facility. (Source: Courtesy of Novatek)

The Arctic LNG 2 project clears a major, and possibly final, hurdle. Chinese suppliers will deliver essential gas turbines allowing Novatek to open the LNG plant in 2023.

China continues to fill the technology gap left by the exit of western companies from Russia’s Arctic energy projects.

For the past year Novatek has been looking to procure crucial gas turbines for its Arctic LNG 2 project. Originally American company Baker Hughes had been slated to provide the equipment to liquefy natural gas and generate electricity at the plant. 

But following the invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions the company did not deliver the bulk of the turbines, leaving Novatek with just four out of a total of 20 required to operate all three production lines of Arctic LNG 2.

Each production line requires around 150MW of power generation. Last year Novatek devised plans to contract a floating Turkish power plant to address its energy needs. These efforts, however, petered out according to Novatek after the two sides could not agree on the terms of the contract. 

Chinese technology for the Arctic

The much-needed turbines will come from Harbin Guanghan Gas Turbine Company, a division of China Shipbuilding Industry Company. The company will provide turbines for the first and second production line, expected to begin production in 2023 and 2024.

Novatek’s own novel “Arctic Cascade” design faced several delays and shutdowns.

Completion of the third line is at least two years away, giving Novatek ample opportunity to test and gain experience with the Chinese turbine. 

According to reports by Russian newspaper Kommersant, the turbines by Harbin Guanghan Gas Turbine Company are adaptation of Ukrainian equipment from the 1980s. As such, they may not have the same efficiencies and reliability as modern turbines by Baker Hughes and Siemens.

“Long-term reliable operation of prototypes in the conditions of the Gulf of Ob will be a serious risk,” says Kommersant.

Western technology has thus far proven critical for the operation of Novatek’s preceding LNG project, Yamal LNG. While the first three production lines designed by major western companies have proven reliable, the smaller fourth train employing Novatek’s own novel “Arctic Cascade” design faced several delays and shutdowns. 

Key summer for Novatek

The first production line of Arctic LNG 2 will be towed from the Belokamenka construction yard near Murmansk to the Gydan peninsula in the coming weeks. In a novel construction approach Novatek assembled each production line on a floating gravity-based structure.

Satellite images show final preparation as the floating platform is readied for transport, including the filling of the dock with water to begin testing the ballast and buoyancy systems.

Belokamenka Shipyard
Satellite view of the Belokamenka construction yard in May 2023 showing gravity-based structures for the first and second LNG trains and the assembly building. (Source: Google Earth)

Novatek will also install a transshipment hub off the coast of Murmansk to further economize the flow of LNG to Europe. The LNG barge Saam FSU – the largest in the world – is currently being towed up the coast of West Africa after it left the shipyard in South Korea in February. 

A second transshipment hub, Koryak FSU, will be installed in the Far East off the Kamchatka peninsula. Originally slated for deployment in 2024, latest reporting suggests that the hub may already be dispatched in 2023. Up to 80 percent of LNG produced by Arctic LNG 2 will flow to Asia rendering Koryak FSU indispensable.

At present the hub remains at the South Korean Okpo shipyards.

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