I have never been to Sakhalin. I’ve been lucky to visit some other oil and gas places but Sakhalin is so far away from European Russia, it’s almost another planet. Last year, Sakhalin produced a little more than 3% of Russia’s oil and condensate. The modest percentage does not explain what’s so special about the island’s oil and gas industry. It’s the fact that it has two projects operated by global majors under production-sharing agreements (PSAs), ExxonMobil and Shell, with Rosneft and Gazprom as the Russian partners.
Both projects involve some technologically sophisticated solutions such as wells with horizontal legs 11-12 kilometers long – drilled in the seabed under shallow waters from large onshore platforms by the coastline. Shell has also built the first LNG plant in Russia (two trains, 5 mm tons per year each) in the south of the island. Most of the oil and gas is produced in the north-east of the island, far from its capital city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk,
Sakhalin would have been worth visiting without the oil, although Chekhov paints a depressing picture of its nature and especially its climate. Luckily, Tim Newman of White Sun of the Desert has uploaded some of the pictures he took when working in Sakhalin. You won’t see anything like them elsewhere, so use the chance while it lasts.