Feature stories | Materials, extraction | Technology & innovation

With its plasma-pulse action, Novas Sk seeks to revolutionize methane production

29 Aug '13
Oleg Kouzbit, Online News Managing Editor

Novas Sk, a Russian developer of a ground-breaking plasma-pulse action method to boost oil and gas production, and Gazpromgeofizika-Nur, a geology-focused subsidiary of natural gas giant Gazprom, continue to pool their efforts in what is expected to evolve into large-scale testing and application of new Russian technology enabling methane production from coal beds. The plasma-pulse action approach once again comes into play to possibly help the partners make methane production from coal profitable—for the first time in global history.

The partners first probed into the innovative methane-producing technology last year on Gazprom’s Kuzbass field in Siberia. Pilot testing was said to have brought about positive results with production of about 200 cubic meters of methane a day and annular gas pressure decreased to 3 atm.

Taking full advantage of coal as a good resonator Novas then stepped up research into the use of plasma-pulse action in coal deposits, not only oil fields where the technique had originally been test-run. In an attempt to enable gas recovery at broader strata Novas launched R&D with an eye to developing a new method of producing methane from coal beds, both economically sound and eco-friendly.

Over the past year, now in a consortium with Gazpromgeofizika-Nur, the company has been pushing more advanced testing on a few wells, including those where fracking is used.

The plasma-pulse action technique was first developed in St. Petersburg and has since then been applied to a number of Russian hydrocarbon fields. The technology is believed to be “environmentally clean, non-destructive, low-cost and heavy-duty.”

A partnership for a technology revolution

Set up in 2007 by its current CEO Nikita Ageyev and a group of researchers from St. Petersburg Institute of Mines, Novas Sk is a subsidiary of Moscow’s Novas Energy Services providing turn-key technology services for Russia’s oil and gas sector.

The leader in the current methane-focused consortium, Novas Sk is also a resident of Skolkovo, Russia’s government-sponsored innovation hub just outside Moscow, working in Skolkovo’s energy efficiency cluster. The company last year received a million-dollar grant from the Skolkovo Foundation to develop its eco-friendly plasma-pulse action method for improving profitability and safety of horizontal drilling oil operations.

Novas Sk has obtained both Russian and US patents for its latest technology breakthroughs.

Its partner in the methane project, Gazpromgeofizika-Nur, is a Gazprom subsidiary based in the town of Ramenskoye some 30 miles south-east of Moscow. Set up in 2008, the company has been conducting extensive R&D in geological survey, geophysics and geochemistry aimed at studying Earth interior and modernizing hydrocarbon production techniques.

The global leader is interested

Applying plasma-pulse action to producing methane from coal fields is Russian know-how and an international first step in tapping the colossal global methane reserves.

With an estimated 49 trillion cubic meters of methane in proven coal strata—an amount comparable to its natural gas riches—Russia sits on one of the world’s largest stockpiles of the gas but produces an astounding 10,000 times less methane than the United States.

The indisputable leader in methane production from coal beds, the U.S. is however limited in using its efficient technology to just one large deposit which is being gradually depleted. Applying the same approach to other deposits is reportedly hampered by the irregularity of coal formations there.

This drives US and other international companies to seek partnerships with Novas Sk. Petr Ageyev, Novas Energy Services director for strategic development, leaked to the press as far back as last fall that “global investment funds are also interested.”
Oleg Kouzbit, managing editor: “I’m glad you join us here and take The Bridge walk for Marchmont’s weekly review of the Russian regions’ innovative present and future. Stay close and you’ll find out more of how Russia is bridging the existing gap between its researchers and businesses.”
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Locations: St. Petersburg

Tags: methane (10) / plasma pulse action (1) / Novas Sk (1) / coal bed (0) / Gazpromgeofizika Nur (0) /

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