By Roman KOPNYAEV
Well-known international companies including BG, Eni, ChevronTexaco and LUKoil are participating in the development of the Karachaganak field. They have rich experience in not only oil and gas production, but also in the application of the latest technologies for reducing the negative impact on the environment. Environmental protection is KPO’s top priority. Company experts have created an Environmental Working Programme, which includes the chief directions for environmental efforts for a 40-year period. During the last few years, KPO’s investments into ecological protection were approximately USD 100 MM.
Modernisation for environmental protection
The launch of the Karachaganak Processing Complex and export pipeline helped to increase the production of hydrocarbons as well as export volumes. On the other hand, these units have also increased the burden on the environment. Taking this into consideration, KPO has done a great deal in order to ensure the reduction of toxic waste. Modern treatment plants have been constructed and an inventory of all types of waste is being carried out. Thus, as a result of the modernisation of the production and storm sewage system at the Gas Processing Plant-3, following treatment all production waste goes to special reception basins, from which the waste is then utilised for a second time for the replenishment of the fire fighting water supply.
KPO pays a great deal of attention to environmental monitoring. The condition of the water, air and soil are examined regularly with the help of environmental monitoring stations and the professional Gidromet LTD Forecasting Centre Laboratory, which analyses about 110,000 samples of atmosphere annually. The results of this analysis provide evidence that the concentration of the main pollutants in air above the field and adjacent areas do not reach the maximum permissible level. Radiation and seismic monitoring are also carried out at the field itself. Currently, a Geographic Information System is being introduced at the field, which includes a broad cartographic database utilising high-resolution satellite imagery and an environmental monitoring database. This system is one the latest scientific achievements in this field. Today, the monitoring results demonstrate that the condition of the environment is characterised as stable and in compliance with international quality norms.
40% of the associated gas is re-injected. The remaining 10% undergoes processing at the sulphur separation plant, where hydrogen sulphide and other harmful admixtures are extracted from the highly sulphureous gas. During this process, fuel gas is produced, which is then used for the needs of the field and local people.
KPO re-injects waters separated from the produced crude hydrocarbons through special wells. The treated wastewater is then used for a second time whenever possible. Following treatment, industrial wastewater goes on to replenish the firefighting system water supply. Following mechanical and biological treatment, all types of wastewater from Karachaganak are dumped into special hydro-isolation sewage ponds that protect the waters from possible pollution. KPO experts control the condition of the underground waters through hydro-observation wells that are located near the ponds.
KPO environmental plans
KPO created an Environmental Protection Measures Plan to be introduced shortly, which includes a Geo-information Monitoring System and the installation of additional continuous environmental monitoring stations. A Waste Management Complex was also built at the field, which will provide the opportunity for repeated usage of waste after heat treatment. In addition, steps to improve the habitat for rare and endangered species of flora and fauna will also be implemented. An integrated assessment of the condition of the environment at the field will also be conducted. KPO is also considering the possibility of conducting an internal environmental audit and the introduction of international standards. All of these measures will make it possible to achieve the main requirements of the New Concept of Environmental Security in Kazakhstan.