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Export pipeline “Altai” will cross six regions of Siberia: REGNUM publishes summary of the main pipeline characteristics

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Gyprospetsgaz (ZAO, Joint-Stock company) upon request from Gazprom Department of Strategic Development prepared a declaration of intent for investments into construction of the “Altai” gas pipeline, which is planned to deliver gas from the fields in Siberia to the north-western regions of China. Starting point of the gas pipeline is suggested; this is the “Purpeyskaya” compressor station of the existing Urengoi-Surgut-Chelyabinsk main pipeline; terminal point in the Russian territory is the Kanas mountain pass at the western border of the Russian Federation (Altai Republic) and China (Xingiang-Uygur autonomous region).

As REGNUM reported earlier, the initial idea of the “Altai” gas pipeline construction was made public by Russias President Vladimir Putin during his visit to China in March 2006. Since then Gazprom started, within very short time, to prepare the project design. The document obtained by REGNUM was prepared by Joint-Stock company ZAO “Gyprospetsgaz”; it is the first document describing in full detail the stages of construction, route of the pipeline, environmental and technological solutions.

According to “Regulation on the impact assessment of industrial and other activities on the environment in Russian Federation”, officially approved by the Order 372 from 16th May 2006, the draft technical task order for development of the section “Environmental impact assessment” as part of "Justification of investments for construction of the “Altai” gas pipeline and short data on the planned activities are currently available for the public.

As it is stated in the document, larger part of the pipeline will provisionally be built within the same technical corridor as already existing and constructed pipelines. Total length of Russian pipeline section will be about 2666 km, including 205 km in Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region, 325 km in Khanty-Mansyisk autonomous region, 879 km in Tomsk region, 244 km in Novosibirsk region, 422 km in Altaisky krai, and 591 km in the Altai Republic.

In its starting section (up to 452 km) planned routed goes in one corridor with existing systems of industrial pipelines Urengoi Surgut  Chelyabinsk and Northern Tyumen regions (NTR) Surgut Omsk, in the general southwards direction with the Ob river crossing. Further on the pipeline route turns to the east, goes to the south bypassing Nizhnevartovsk town, and at the 510th kilometer enters one corridor with the main pipeline Nizhnevartovsk gas refinery  Parabel, and then goes further along the Parabel-Kuzbass pipeline to the existing compressing station “Volodino”.

After “Volodino” the planned pipeline turns towards south-west and, after crossing the Ob river, goes in a separate corridor towards “Novosibirskaya” compressing station, thereafter for 32 km goes to the east in the corridor of Novosibirsk-Kuzbass pipeline, and then turns south and goes parallel to two other gas pipelines, Novosibirsk-Barnaul and Barnaul-Biisk. Here general direction of the pipeline route is to the south-east.

Near Biysk (Altaisky krai) the pipeline crosses, with a separately made crossing, the Ob river and enters the corridor of currently built pipelines to Belokurikha resort and to Altaisky regional town center.

From Altaisky the pipeline enters mountain Altai, and goes first in south-western direction along the Peschanaya river valley, then reaches Chuisky road in the vicinity of Tenga settlement (Altai Republic). Further the pipeline follows the Chuisky road to regional center Kosh-Agach, turns to the south and reaches, across the Chuya river steppe, the Tarkhata river valley and along the eastern limits of South-Chuisky Mountain Ridge, the Ukok Plateau and further goes towards China in the Kanas mountain pass area. In the territory of Altai Republic pipeline route goes over the lands of the “Ukok” natural park.

Mountain Altai region, in terms of relief, is a complex system of ridges, upland plateaus and mountain depressions. Absolute altitudes along the pipeline route increase towards the south and reach 2600 meters. At the section from 2169 to 2666 km pipeline route goes in the zone of sporadic (up to 20%), massive-island (up to 50%), patched (up to 80%) or complete (95% and more) permafrost. Out of modern geological processes and phenomena one can observe processes of slope changes (taluses, falling rocks) and frost-driven aeration that leads to formation of shingles. According to SNiP II-7-81 seismic conditions for the pipeline route are estimated as 8-10 magnitude scale for crucially important constructions, and as 8-9 magnitude scale for important constructions.

It the areas where the planned pipeline goes in one corridor with the existing pipeline system, and where working pressure is similar, it is provided that technological linkages with existing pipelines will be built.

For maintenance of the pipeline transfer capacity during its operation and check-ups it is planned that the pipeline will be cleaned from inside without termination of gas transfer. For this purpose it is provided that special units to operate start-up and reception of purification devices will be installed at the compression stations; these will be co-located with the station welding units. In the sections where distance between compressor stations is larger than 200 km intermediate units for launching and reception of purification devices will be installed. Gas measurement station is planned in the immediate vicinity of the border to China to ensure commercial assessment of gas transmission.

It is planned that pipeline will be constructed of Class K60 steel pipes with external anticorrosion isolation and smoothed internal coating both factory-made.  In the areas where permafrost soils are found in the northern parts of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous region and in the Altai Mountains it is planned to use frost-resistant steel pipes.

Pipes will be welded with electric arch welding and isolated with encircling thermoflex cuffs. Welding quality will be controlled by radiographic and ultrasonic methods. Underground pneumohydraulic locks with factory-made anticorrosion coating will be used as shutdown equipment.

It is planned that along the entire route pipeline will be mostly underground. Pipeline depth according to SNiPs will be 0.6 meters in rock soils and in boggy areas without any movements of car transport or agricultural vehicles; it will be equal to 1.1 meter at the crossings with drainage and melioration canals, and 1 meter at all other sections.

In the areas which are potentially most dangerous automatic control and emergency shutdown system are planned. At the river and other crossings seismic stations are planned to record stress movements of the pipeline and surrounding soils in case of earthquakes.

At 8o and steeper slopes construction of shelves is foreseen, their width depending on the working conditions and on the opportunities to excavate trenches. In the utmost restricted mountain conditions it is possible that tunneling method of pipeline construction will be made.

According to provisional plan for construction of the “Altai” pipeline it is planned to start construction in 2006, and to finalize it completely in 2015, with the Russian-Chinese border to be crossed in 2013.

Industrial construction of all objects will start in 2008 at the Agan section of the pipeline; in 2010 construction will start at the objects of Purpey, Vynga-Pur and Peschanaya sections of the pipeline. In 2011 it is planned that construction work will start in Novosibirsk, Parabel, Ortyagun, Gordeevo and Kurai parts of the “Altai” pipeline. Work at Volodino section will start in 2012, and completion of all construction work at the Russian side is envisaged by the end of 2013. Various adjustments and tuning will be continued till 2015. The end of 2011 is expected to be most difficult, as construction will reach its final stage over large part of almost all pipeline sections.

According to estimates made by “Gyprospetsgaz” personnel requirements are foreseen as 740 staff in 2007, 5420 in 2008, 6550 in 2009, 11280 in 2010, 4270 in 2011, 3550 in 2012, 5700 in 2013, 3770 in 2014, 1650 in 2015 and 1400 in 2016.

Considering environmental components of the Project, “Gyprospetsgaz” experts note that technogenic impacts on land and environment during construction will be primarily related to changes in natural relief as a result of various excavation works; changes in natural physical, mechanical, chemical and biological processes  in the soil surface; logging in the transects of pipeline trenches; changes in micro-relief resulting from operations of heavy construction vehicles; changes in slope resistance to erosion, resulting from denudation.

Most of these impacts will be restored and minimized after construction is ended due to land recultivation and other operational and technical activities.

Long-term impacts, which will last for entire period of construction work, are the following: lands will be partially used for permanent constructions related to pipeline operations (above the surface); forest fragmentation due to changes in hydro-geological regime and lighting. To minimize the above impacts the following work is planned after finalization of construction activities: planned forest restoration along the pipeline, including also measures to reduce erosion; recultivation of farmland and arable lands; measures against soil erosion and measures to prevent destruction of river banks; establishment of water protection zones of the river crossings; prevention of forest-fires in the forests along the pipeline.

Construction of the pipeline in itself does not lead to changes in natural relief.

Areas for construction of compressor stations are usually selected at the poor-quality lands or wastelands. To reduce the area needed for such stations the latter are designed to provide for most dense construction and the minimum length of engineering networks.

Landscape changes in the areas where pipeline is constructed are limited to formation of 32-50 meters wide forest-free stripes in the pipeline corridor, or widening of existing forest-free stripes to 30 meters width in the corridors of already existing pipelines, as well as to appearance of forest-free patches (20-25 hectares and larger) in areas of compressor stations.

The corridor for construction of the “Altai” main pipeline is planned according to “Standards on land allocation for pipeline constructions” and equals to 32 meters in woodlands and 45 meters in farmland. Additional stripe of 18 meters is planned for the technical road according to “Standards on land allocation for car roads”.

According to acting legislation all the losses and lost incomes of land-users related to temporary or permanent termination of land-use are subject to full-scale compensations. Costs for compensations shall be accounted and planned for in the project budgets, and shall include: losses of land-users, including lost incomes, related to temporary take-off of the lands; losses related to permanent acquisition of the lands.

It is provisionally calculated that during construction the total land area needed will be equal to 10 041 hectares, out of them 350 hectares used for temporary constructions, and 550 hectares used for compressor stations with relevant network and constructions. It is planned to purchase 170 hectares of forests for permanent land-ownership, and to allocate 9 871 hectares of forests for temporary use in the period of construction; the latter figure includes also 2 250 hectares of farmland.

In the Altai Republic gas pipeline goes across the Ukok Plateau, including also the lands of the natural park “Ukok Quite Zone”. The areas of the park itself is 254 904 hectares. The Ukok Plateau is the most famous area of entire Mountain Altai, as it is also noted by the authors of the document. It is located at the very south of West Siberia where borders of four states China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia are located. Ukok Plateau has altitudes of 2200 to 2500 meters above the sea level, and mountains above it are 500-600 meters higher. The highest peak around the Ukok Plateau is the Nairamdal Mountain, which is 4374 meters high part of Tabyn-Bogdo-Ola (five sacred peaks) mountain complex. This is the second highest mountain in entire Siberia. Boundaries of three states  China, Mongolia and Russia  meet in the Tabyn-Bogdo-Ola.

Geographic extent and borders of the “Ukok” park are not equal to the total area of the Ukok Plateau, with the park covering only about half of the Plateau. The “Ukok Quite Zone” park is located in the extreme south of Altai Republic at the territory of Kosh-Agach administrative district; it occupies larger (southern) part of Bertek, southern part of Kara-Alakha and entire Kiytyn districts of south-eastern Altai physical-geographical province.

According to the Statement of the Government of Altai Republic the following functional zones are defined within the natural park boundaries: zone “A” of strictly protected regime, where whatever economic and recreational land-use is completely prohibited; zone “B” with restricted land-use, where strictly regulated access and restricted economic activity is allowed; zone “C” where excursions, tourist activities and economic activities are allowed in agreement and upon regulation of the park. The planned route of “Altai” gas pipeline goes within the third zone (zone “C”) where economic activities are allowed.

During the pipeline construction modern construction technologies will be used; they fully exclude whatever damage to natural complexes and objects of the park, to natural monuments, to archaeological and cultural heritage of the Altai peoples. Besides, most technologically advanced and innovative equipment will be used at the operations stage for gas transmission, with technologies to provide for only little use of human resources, with systems of high-technological communication and operations. Permanent control of gas transmission will be secured through the use of methods and equipment for operational industrial environmental monitoring and patrolling by helicopters. These technologies will fully secure protection of the “Ukok Quite Zone” natural communities, its flora, fauna, and wildlife migration corridors.

At the same time during development of “Justification of investments for construction of the Altai gas pipeline” a complex of research activities will be implemented with participation of institutes and universities of the Russian Academy of Sciences for studies of the archaeological and ethnographic monuments and for conservation of cultural heritage in the area of proposed construction. This research will enable then, at the further stages of project implementation, to implement according to the workplan both complex archaeological excavations along the pipeline route, as well as undertake full-scale measures for protection of archaeological monuments and other heritage of the Altai people (rescue and restoration work, moving the pipeline route from the zones with monuments etc.).

As it is proposed by the authors of the document, socio-economic values of the “Altai” pipeline construction project, that will secure gas transmission towards the border between Russian and China, shall be considered not from the functional efficiency point of view of this entire enterprise, but from the final results that will be achieved in terms of changed economic potential in the region and increased living standards within the region and Russia as a whole.

Commenting on the direct economic effects, experts of “Gyprospetsgaz” note that the most important indicator of the social value for the decisions that are to be taken relates to creation of new jobs and increased employment of local people. The largest number of workers is needed at the construction stage. In 2006 to 2010 the number of employees will be the largest and will reach the total of 6000 staff simultaneously needed. Maximum number of employees needed for operations stage is foreseen in 2015 (i.e. during 5th year of operations).

Personnel costs during construction comprise significant part of all construction and mounting costs; however additionally one shall consider overhead costs, additional incomes, and also the costs of project developers and assessment and designing organizations.

Most of work related to technical and material support to construction will be concentrated in Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansyisk autonomous regions, in Tomsk and Novosibirsk regions, in Altaisky krai and Altai Republic.

Additional indirect effects arte linked to the needs for larger production in other linked spheres of economy. During construction this relates primarily to production of building materials, and part of these enterprises are located within the considered regions, machinery and metal production and transport industries.

Investments into gas industry will allow intensification of other related industries and potentially might lead to construction of new enterprises and technical improvement of already existing ones, will increase economic activity throughout entire region, will secure existing and provide new jobs.

Capital investments into complete construction of planned pipeline system (in 2006 prices) will comprise 36,466 million rubles  in Yamalo-Nenets region, 49,235 in Khanty-Mansyisk region, 108,724 and 28,513 million rubles  respectively in Tomsk and Novosibirsk regions, 50,476 million rubles  in Altaisky krai and 88,822 rubles  in Altai Republic. Total capital investments will exceed 363.2 billion rubles.

Tax payments to the budget of Russian Federation at the operation stage will comprise 351,893 million rubles, including 3.8 billion rubles  of personnel-related taxes, and 348.1 billion rubles  of income taxes paid by organizations. When subdivided into administrative regions these tax revenues will comprise (Yamalo-Nenets AR: personnel-related taxes  382 million, income taxes 34,946 million, in total 35,328 million rubles ; Khanty-Mansyisk AR:  515 million, 47,182 million, 47,697 million rubles  respectively; Tomsk region 1,138 million, 104,191 million, 105,329 million rubles  respectively; Novosibirsk region  309 million, 28,282 million, 28,591 million rubles respectively; Altaisky krai  528 million, 48 381 million, 48 900 million rubles  respectively; Altai Republic  930 million, 85 119 million, 86 049 million rubles  respectively). These tax payments are calculated based on the 25-year commercial activity estimates with the price levels remaining stable (in prices of 2006).

Permanent news address: www.regnum.ru/english/771202.html
11:20 01/30/2007
Translated by Lena Lebedeva-Hooft
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