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Sakhalin Energy partners could decide on train 3 in 2012

The partners in Russia's Sakhalin 2 project may take an investment decision on a third gas liquefaction train next year, Gazprom Export CEO Alexander Medvedev told Platts Tuesday. Speaking to Platts in Tokyo, Medvedev said the Sakhalin 2 project could take an investment decision by as early as next year if its project partners agree to launch a feasibility study this year.

"The investment decision will be made after feasibility study is finished," Medvedev told Platts. "If a decision is taken to launch a feasibility study this year. Then next year we will know results of the project preparations and we could take a final investment decision next year."

The new LNG train would need 4 billion cubic meters/year production from the challenging reserves at the project's Piltun-Astokhskoye field. "Sakhalin 2 can produce an additional 4 Bcm/year from the southern part of the Piltun-Astokhskoye field," the head of Gazprom's upstream department, Vsevolod Cherepanov, told reporters in September.

The partners could supply these volumes into the Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok pipeline initially destined for local markets in Russia's Far East and later use the gas for LNG production, Cherepanov said.

The pipeline could also later be used to feed gas to South Korea via North Korea if an agreement can be reached on a pipeline transiting the north. "This excess production will be for the next three-four years only, afterward it will be required by Sakhalin 2's own projects," he added.

The comment could be viewed as an indication that Gazprom expects new LNG capacity at Sakhalin 2 to come on stream within this period.

Sakhalin 2 is Russia's only LNG project currently and has two trains with combined capacity of 9.6 million mt/year.

Russia is considering the possibility of building a third train with a capacity of up to 5 million mt/year. No final decision has been taken yet. Cherepanov said production of the additional gas volumes could be start "quickly" after an agreement on its marketing through the pipeline is reached. The Sakhalin 2 project is based on developing the Piltun-Astokhskoye field, which is mainly an oil deposit, and Lunskoye, which holds mostly gas.

The fields' combined recoverable reserves were estimated at 150 million mt (1.1 billion barrels) of crude and 500 billion cubic meters (17.65 Tcf) of gas.

The Piltun-Astokhskoye field has a difficult, multi-layered structure, with a gas reservoir under gas and condensate reservoirs, according to Cherepanov.

The Sakhalin 2 project is operated under a production-sharing agreement within a consortium in which Gazprom holds a 50% plus one share stake. Shell holds a 27.5% interest, and the remaining equity is owned by Japanese companies Mitsui (12.5%) and Mitsubishi (10%).

Takeo Kumagai

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