13 May 2021 22:55

Distinguish a danger

Scientists work to prevent accidents in transportation and production of gas and oil. Unfortunately, oil leaks from tankers, explosions in wells, and damage to main pipelines do not only occur in the movies. Accidents in the extraction and transportation of gas and oil in Ukraine are quite possible, as many wells and gas pipelines have been used for many decades and have almost exhausted the resource of safe operation.

Scientists from Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil and Gas work to prevent such accidents. They submitted a project “Increasing the level of environmental safety of energy hydrocarbons extraction and transportation” to the NRFU call and received funding for 2020-2021 (the total amount is about 4Mio UAH).

The project supervisor Lubomyr Poberezhny says, accidents of varying complexity are not uncommon and the damage from them can be huge. Near the damaged oil well, as a rule, there is a black stinking lake being formed, which poisons everything around. In case of an underground leak, the oil enters the aquifer, and it may take several days before it is noticed.

When the wreckage flies hundreds of meters

The situation is complicated by the fact that many long-lived wells are located in the western regions of Ukraine, near recreational areas. If something happens, the damage from the accident near such a zone could amount to tens of millions of hryvnias. Much more money will have to be spent in 5-10 years to restore the environment. Then you will have to forget about vacation in the coming years in such an area.

– Accidents on gas pipelines are no less dangerous, – Mr. Lubomyr says. – In 2007, for example, a powerful explosion occurred on the territory of our country on the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod gas pipeline. The wreckage flew for tens of meters, a huge funnel formed near the pipeline!

The Great Seven

Given the importance of the issue, the project team includes experts from various fields. Among them the Colonel Andriy Stanetsky, whose main direction of scientific work is the problems of extraction and transportation of energy hydrocarbons in combat zones and near the demarcation line. Igor Chudyk, a well-known specialist in the development of environmentally friendly construction of oil and gas wells, Doctor of Technical Sciences, is also involved in the project; Volodymyr Khomyn, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Specialist in Ecological Safety of the Geological Environment in Exploration, Exploration and Development of Oil and Gas Fields; Specialist in risk management, researcher of environmental risks in the transportation of energy hydrocarbons, Candidate of Technical Sciences, Lyubov Poberezhna. The team also includes young scientists. The project supervisor, Lubomyr Poberezhny, has been researching the durability and survivability of structures with subcritical damage for many years, determines the level of hazards of operational factors, assesses and forecasts operational risks.

Deepen the pipeline

So what is the essence of the project? How to reduce the risk of accidents?

An important part of the work is the analysis of the condition of gas and oil pipelines and production equipment, – says Mr. Lubomyr. – We determine the objects where the probability of an accident is the highest. We will then create an algorithm according to which the organizations operating gas pipelines will be able to determine dangerous areas in advance.

One of the main directions is to determine in which places there is a danger of negative impact on the environment and to consider how to prevent accidents. A special direction of the project is the analysis of the possible radius of shelling by different types of shells in the combat zone.

Clogged unreliable

The pandemic has significantly complicated the work of researchers. At the end of 2020, they planned to inspect the preserved and liquidated wells of the Western Ukrainian oil and gas region, but restrictions in the “red zones” made it impossible to access these facilities.

These wells were considered uncompetitive and economically unprofitable. A significant part of the objects were transferred to conservation, and some were included in the list of liquidated ones. Wells were to be fixed with cement mortar or bridges 25 meters high or other binders and filled with flushing fluid, but in the 90’s there was no money, so it was decided to neglect the technology and reduce the height of the cement bridge. Over time, cracks began to appear, and water-oil emulsion was released from some wells.

Of course, scientists do not suggest neglecting the probable potential of these wells. They understand that our state desperately needs energy, because energy independence is the key to political independence, so it is important to find the right balance between the development of the oil and gas industry and its impact on the environment.

SMS alert

Today, among other things, scientists have developed a method for identifying areas with potential risk of geodynamic processes. In addition, a test sample of a non-energy geodynamic hazard monitoring post was created. Outwardly, it is an ordinary column with a solar panel. But when the soil shifts in the mountains or near the river near the well, this column begins to bend and sends text messages to the operator. The text of the message depends on the angle of the monitoring post. This early warning tool will help calculate the shear rate to go to a dangerous place not when a breakthrough has occurred, but when it can still be prevented. In summer, the first such “columns” will be installed in the most problematic places.

The project team talks about the results obtained during online meetings and scientific conferences. The plans include presentations for representatives of Naftogaz, the Gas Transmission System Operator, and Ukrnafta.

5 minutes before the finish

Mr. Lubomyr advises his fellow scientists to reject doubts and hesitations and try their hand at NFDU calls.

By the way, Lubomyr Yaroslavovych advises to be as careful as possible about the time of application. He says that he formed the application together with his colleagues for a long time and carefully re-read it, until five minutes before the deadline, he clicked “Send”. When he saw the “window” with a request to put a digital signature, he got nervous. He started feverishly remembering and recovering the password for “Privat 24”. Ten seconds before midnight sent. “Don’t do that,” laughs Mr. Lubomyr. – Leave time for surprises, force majeure, internet outages. Good luck!”.

Svitlana GALATA

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