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Global Ideas

Fact Box: The Shtokman gas field

15.01.2013 DW Global Ideas Karte Shtokman eng

A map of the Shtokman field

The gas field in the Barents Sea is the biggest in the world. And it's not the only gas reserve in the region.

In 1981, Soviet scientists aboard the research ship “Professor Shtokman” discovered that a gas field was probably located in the eastern Barents Sea. The reserves were discovered in 1988 and named after the Soviet geophysicist Vladimir Shtokman. The scientist was the descendant of Germans who went by the last name “Stockmann.”

The gas reserves named after him contain, according to latest estimates, some 3,900 billion cubic meters of gas and 56.1 million tons of gas condensate. That's the equivalent of gas that's currently used worldwide in 15 to 16 months. Gas condensate is an in-between stage between gas and crude oil. The gas field lies some 600 kilometers northeast off the Russian port city of Murmansk that's located north of the Polar Circle and is close to the Norwegian and Finnish border.

The gas and gas condensate is meant to be pumped from the sea bed with the help of a floating platform and brought to the coast via two pipelines. On land, a part of the gas is to be liquefied and then further transported as liquefied natural gas, or LNG, with the help of special ship tankers.

The other part is meant to be exported via the Baltic Sea pipeline. The Shtokman Development consortium was founded to access and explore the gas reserves. The Russian gas company Gazprom has a 51-percent stake, the French oil company hold 25 percent. In 2012, the Norwegian company Statoil returned its 24-percent stake in the consortium to Gazprom.

In addition to the Shtokman gas field, there are other oil and gas reserves in the Barents Sea. But all the discovered reserves are much smaller than the Shtokman fields.

One successful example is the Snohvit reserves (Norwegian for Snow White). It's considered the most northern offshore gas field worldwide and Europe's largest gas liquefying facility. Since 2007, the Snow White field is being tapped by Norwegian company Statoil along with partners.

The US Geological Survey calculated in 2008 how many raw materials still remain undiscovered in the oil-rich Barents Sea – 1.75 billion cubic meters of crude oil, 11,000 billion cubic meters of gas and 0.32 billion cubic meters of condensate.