Novatek has turned to a Chinese supplier of turbines for gas liquefaction after US-based Baker Hughes severed ties last year.
China-based Harbin Gugnghan Turbine will supply the turbines that will power the first two production lines of the Arctic LNG-2 project. The project being built by Novatek, Russia's largest independent gas producer, includes the construction of three lines with an annual capacity of 19.8 million tonnes of liquefied gas.
The Arctic LNG-2 project was left without a turbine supplier after US-based Baker Hughes severed ties last year. Originally, Baker Hughes was to supply about 20 LM9000 turbines with a capacity of up to 75 MW for three of the plant's production lines. However, only four units were shipped. These will be used by Arctic LNG-2 in the first line.
Each of the turbines will have a capacity of 150 MW and should be in place to meet Novatek's plans for the first line to open at the end of this year, and second next year. The Chinese turbines are based on a Soviet-era Ukrainian design. Experts have warned that their quality is lower than modern Western turbines. Concern has also been raised about whether they can withstand an Arctic climate.
Originally, the turbine of 1980s Ukrainian origin was intended for Soviet warships. But in China it could not only be used for its intended purpose, but also converted for stationary use. Of course, it cannot be compared with machines from Siemens and Baker Hughes, it seems that these are the first commercial samples. The harsh natural environment of the Ob Gulf in Russia will be a serious challenge to the long-term reliable operational performance of this model and will pose a serious risk, Yuri Melnikov, an independent expert, said.
Since construction of the third line of Arctic LNG-2 will not be completed until 2025, Novatek has enough time to test the Chinese turbine and gain experience with it.
Previously, Novatek planned to order a floating gas reciprocating power plant to supply Arctic LNG-2 from the Turkish Karpowership. However, Novatek abandoned the Turkish option. According to Chairman of the Management Board of Novatek, negotiations with the Turkish company stopped because Karpowership "changed the conditions for providing the power plant every month."
The story of the "American" and "Turkish" experiments has led to ambiguous conclusions. On the one hand, Russia considers China a reliable partner and intends to deepen technological cooperation on mutually beneficial terms. On the other hand, Russian companies assess the risks of such cooperation, including environmental ones; the work is still ongoing.