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Jun 23, 2022
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Platforms will be restored: why is Kyiv’s blow in the Black Sea painful?

In the near future, in the Black Sea, the restoration of gas platforms that were subjected to a missile attack by the Armed Forces of Ukraine will begin. Why is it so important for Crimea?

“According to the permission of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, working groups will come to the region, which will be engaged in the restoration and repair of drilling platforms. Also, the investigating authorities will work to establish the specific causes and extent of damage, ”wrote the head of the Crimea, Sergei Aksenov, on his telegram channel.

Earlier, on June 20, after 08:00, the Armed Forces of Ukraine launched a missile attack on platforms at the Odessa field in the Black Sea. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the attack occurred immediately after another unsuccessful attempt by the Ukrainian army to capture the island of Serpents.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine are unlikely to give up their claims to a strategic island. Therefore, why carry out restoration work at facilities that are located only 30 miles from Zmiynoye and can again become the target of attacks?

What happened at the Odessa field?

Initially, there were reports of a missile attack on the Krym and Tavrida drilling rigs. Later, Crimean Senator Olga Kovitidi explained that the missiles hit three block conductors and damaged the first one the most. It’s on fire. The drilling rigs were damaged, as they were located next to the block conductors.

The difference between drilling rigs and block conductors is huge. The first are, in fact, large drills that are moved when necessary to drill new wells. Block conductors, on the other hand, are platforms on which wells go and where gas is produced. Drilling rigs in the Black Sea have become a kind of symbol of the entry of Crimea into Russia, however, the Armed Forces of Ukraine chose block conductors for the strike.

Above the surface of the sea, a platform rises thirty by thirty meters, and getting into it from a distance of a hundred kilometers is more difficult than into a drilling rig. Therefore, the defeat of all three block conductors can be considered deliberate. The Ukrainian authorities wanted to carry out a painful action for the peninsula and stop the production of gas that enters the Crimea.

Why did work in the field near Zmeiny Island continue during the hostilities?

Immediately after the strike on the platforms, conspiracy theories began to be built on social networks about why the platforms 30 miles from Zmiyoi continued to work during the hostilities. In their assumptions, they even reached some “agreements” with the Ukrainian side because of the money. In fact, everything is easier. The entire oil and gas infrastructure in the Black Sea was built in Soviet and Ukrainian times. And the Odessa gas field has been the only own source of gas for Crimea in recent years, and its shutdown can significantly affect the gas supply to the peninsula.

Another thing is that it is located closer to the Ukrainian shores, which has been discussed more than once, and since 2014 nothing has been done to at least discover new deposits. Even in Soviet times, several promising structures were discovered closer to the peninsula, the reserves of which may exceed the volume of the Odessa field of 20 billion cubic meters.

What is known is that for all eight years in Chernomorneftegaz they only made plans and more often discussed the onshore Povorotnoye gas condensate field. In May of this year, the RNKB Bank announced the opening of a credit line for its development in the amount of 5.1 billion rubles. At the same time, the reserves of the deposit cannot be compared with Odessa. In a statement from the administration of the Leninsky District about the public hearings on the EIA in 2020, it is said that production is planned at the level of 26.25 thousand cubic meters per hour (230 million cubic meters per year), which is four times lower than the fishing capacity in the Black Sea.

Can Crimea live without Black Sea gas?

In recent years, production at the Odessa field could be up to 1 billion cubic meters – more than a third of the annual gas consumption on the peninsula. The rest is supplied through the gas pipeline from the Krasnodar Territory, which was launched at the end of 2016. The line’s capacity of 2.2 billion cubic meters per year can be increased to 4 billion cubic meters, but risks remain.

Most of the Black Sea production goes into storage in spring and summer to be used in the next heating season, when demand rises sharply and current supplies are scarce. At the same time, most of the fuel is supplied through the gas pipeline to two new Crimean thermal power plants, whose capacity is no longer always enough for the peninsula and electricity has to be supplied via an energy bridge.

Another factor is the cost of Black Sea gas. It is lower than the price of fuel that Chernomorneftegaz buys on the stock exchange. This threatens with additional financial losses to cover the difference between tariffs and real costs.

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