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TCO’s public hearing on environmental impact

November 4 2014, 10:59

By Zulfiya Bainekeeva

"Tengizchevroil" starts the construction of the third generation plant (3GP). At the end of October the company held public hearings on environmental impact assessment of this large-scale project with a preliminary cost of about 40 billion dollars.

About the project

Future Growth Project (FGP) after completion of the construction planned for 2019 will ensure oil production increase from the present 24 to 36 million tons per year. Besides production growth the project will allow to expand sour gas injection capacities. The main facilities of FGP:

Pressure Boost Facility (PBF)

3rd Generation Plant (3GP) located on 1,2km x 1,3 km area

3rd Generation Injection Plant (3GI)

Gathering System and new wells

Water injection system

"Orken" new rotation camp

Joint production control center 

Construction management site (FGP base)

Purpose-made in-field road

"Orken" new rotation camp will be built specially for 3GP. It will be located next to the existing TCO rotation camp and designed for 5000 people with possible expansion.

TCO project for the first time will have no sulfur and LPG production units, as well as sulfur pads for its storage: the produced gas will be 100 % - re-injected.

- This is both care about environment and an opportunity to maintain formation pressure, - informed Rocky Brannen, TCO General Manager of Projects.

Atyrau "Resort"

Kazecoproject LLP developed TCO’s environmental impact assessment for FGP.

This is quite an interesting reading matter. Let me quote the most, in my opinion, significant moments.

Atmospheric air condition

According to Kazecoproject the total concentration of emissions for all TCO facilities, including Tengiz gas-processing plant (KTL-1, KTL-2), SGP, SGI, Gathering and re-injection systems, Wells, "Shanyrak"  and TCO camps – to-date do not exceed allowable level.

The contractor referred to some curious researches on the category "Air pollution index (API)". According to those data, API near Tengiz is very low. For example, in Kokshetau - "the green lungs" of Kazakhstan this indicator is 0,3, in Atyrau – 4,8. Almaty has the record indicator - 11,5. Even in notorious Ust- Kamenogorsk it is only - 7,6. And in Tengiz rotational camps the index is almost equal to  sanatorium (resort) quality -  1,4; in New Karaton located next to Tengiz - 1,5. Why Atyrau has the reputation of the city where it is impossible to get a lungeful of fresh air? It appears that compared to Almaty we simply live in a resort place. "Kazekoproоусе" guarantees.

In short, everything is as usual – there are risks, but they are illusive, but the benefit is obvious: in case of project implementation a part of local population will have stable salaries and investors – millions in income. However, these two conclusions are typical to all environmental impact assessments, although they are prepared by different developers. However in TCO’s case we can state an enviable constancy in the selection of the contractor - Kazecoproyekt LLP prepares EIAs for this company since 1998.

Diarov’s advice

A number of awkward questions were asked by Galina Chernova, the head of Globus NGO:

- Why don’t you tell the public the number of wells that you are going to drill? Why do you keep it as a secret? Why the project that was once estimated at 6,9 billion dollars, suddenly increased to 40 billion dollars? It makes difference to us because, after all, Kazakhstan will compensate all these expenses with the sale of oil! And, in general, there are no convincing proofs that the region can withstand such loads to its fragile ecology. Therefore we have concerns: wouldn’t we once be the first ecological refugees in our republic…

The academician Muftakh Diarov tormented TCO managers with his questions about current condition of Tengiz reservoir. He hardly managed to get a specific figure of reservoir pressure. As it was informed by one expatriate manager - since the beginning of the field development it fell from 850-950 atmospheres down to 450-500 depending on the location.

Diarov also wanted to know the volumes of re-injected gas during the past years. For preparation of the answer to this question TCO experts asked to give them some time.

The disappointed academician suggested to the administration of the company to send their experts back to educational institutions to get their diplomas again:

- They receive their salaries for nothing. You promised me that you will bring experts to this hearing who are ready to answer any questions. They aren’t ready again. Send them back to school to study.  

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