Without Damaging the Tundra Cover

GEOTECH Holding is the largest Russian exploration company. It treats HSE very seriously, because it is a determining element for efficient operations management and ensures a successful development of the company. Seismic surveys in protected natural reserves are a good demonstration of a responsible approach to environmental safety.


GEOTECH Holding complies with federal environmental regulatory acts and the environmental safety requirements of the International Association of Geophysical Contractors when performing geophysical surveys throughout the world.

The issue of environmental risk management, as well as occupational safety and hazard control, is included in the Corporate Health, Safety and Environment Policy of GEOTECH Holding that includes:

- The development and application of efficient HSE management systems in compliance with international and national standards;

- Consistent reduction of the occupational injury rate, occupational diseases, accidents, and adverse environmental impact;

- Assurance of safe operations and environment protection based on operational risk analyses and management;

- Enhancement of industrial and environmental safety of operational facilities to a level that meets that of the leading oilfield services companies in the world;

- Continuous improvement of labor and HSE conditions.

The directors of GEOTECH Holding companies, managers of seismic crews, and specialists who make operational decisions that have or can have an adverse impact on the environmental are regularly trained in special courses.

These and other requirements fully apply to operations at all divisions at GEOTECH Holding, including OJSC Naryan-Marseismorazvedka, which has been performing seismic surveys for over 50 years exploring oil and gas fields. In the last 30 years, the company has been active in the north of the Timan-Pechora oil and gas province. Senior personnel at the company have extensive experience ranging from 7 to 40 years in the Far North and certificates that qualify them to operate modern equipment.

The subsidiary of GEOTECH Holding has its own support divisions and bases that ensure efficient high-precision field operations in this remote region that almost completely lacks a road infrastructure. They all have state-of-the art specialized equipment and tools, including Trimble satellite navigation systems, the self-propelled drill rigs USh-2T4, the caterpillar vibrators Nomad-65T, the field telemetry systems Sercel 428XL, and the all-terrain vehicles TREKOL.

Igor Gots, Managing Director at OJSC Naryan-Marseismorazvedka, Honorary Geologist of the Russian Federation, says that "The level of intensity of our operations is very high because the field season lasts three and half months at the most, while vehicles cannot be operated in the snowless period. This imposes an additional responsibility on us, especially with respect to preparations for field operations, because the absence of materiel and mechanisms stipulated the work plan poses the risk of a big or small environmental disaster. A technological error can result in such consequences. For this reason, we pay serious attention to the training of personnel, including environmental safety training.

The high level of environmental safety maintained at all companies affiliated with GEOTECH Holding is demonstrated by the absence of claims about violations of the environmental legislation of Russia and the experience of seismic surveys in protected natural reserves. Such areas include the Nizhne-Pechorsky Regional Nature Reserve, the State Natural Reserve Nenetsky, and the State Natural Reserve More-Yu. The flora and fauna of this reserve can be posed by the development of the Nyadeiyuskoye, Syamayuskoye, and Moreyuskoye oilfields located near its boundaries.

The State Natural Reserve More-Yu, created to preserve and study the relic fir open forest with a unique ecosystem for the northern tundra, includes 20% of the Syamayskiy license area. The technical assignment for this area stipulates a 3D seismic survey using a blasting and drilling source. However, the specialists at Naryan-Marseismorazvedka proposed an integrated approach based on a survey of the area using the NOMAD-65T vibrators. The blasting method for the generation of an elastic vibration is considered more efficient in comparison with non-explosive sources, because it is more powerful. This method was applied only outside the boundaries of More-Yu to prevent any damage to the environment of the Bolshaya Zemlya tundra through hole-drilling.

Operations in the natural reserve were supervised in accordance with the Conditions of Approval and Performance of Seismic Exploration Operation issued by the Ecological Committee of the Arkhangelsk Region.

The final report notes that our vibrators have wide tracks with a ground pressure of 0.46 kg/cm2 , which allows movement in winter time without damaging the top layer.

A rather long turn radius of 22 meters in winter conditions prevents any damage to the humus even in the areas with a thin snow cover or without. The support plate of the vibrator also has a large area of 123×213 cm and cannot damage the top soil layer.

Reconnaissance conducted before seismic surveys played a significant role in ensuring environmental safety at the Syamayuskoye field. As a result, the survey pattern was designed so as to prevent entry into especially hazardous areas.

Another example of seismic surveys in protected natural reserves is the project carried out by OJSC Naryan-Marseismorazvedka in the Kumzhinskiy area, in the western part of the mouth of the Pechora River at the boundary of the Nizhne-Pechorsky regional natural reserve and the State Natural Reservation Nenentsky.

– Igor Gots, notes that “Due to the huge amount of weakly freezing water bodies conventional seismic exploration with heavy equipment was impossible because any accident posed a risk of significant damage to top soil layers and possible spill of fuel and lubricates into the water and soil. That would have inevitably affected the ecosystems of the two protected natural reserves during spring flooding.

As a compromise, Naryan-Marseismorazvedka proposed surveying the entire area using the light-weight pulse seismic sources SEM-50 towed by the floating vehicles MTLB with the base located on the right bank of the Pechora 15 km away from the area. This approach allowed to avoid the use of heavy tractors in the area, while the SEM sources towed by the MTLB allowed to avoid the risk of sinking even on thin sea ice.

– Managing Director of OJSC Naryan-Marseismorazvedka underlines that “Compliance with  federal and local environmental regulations, corporate and local rules, which set much tougher requirements in comparison with commonly accepted standards, as well as application of the best international environmental safety practices during seismic exploration, is a top priority for us. Thanks to this and a proper application of continuous seismic wave sources, we managed to conduct a comprehensive geological exploration of the license areas near the protected zones, proving that operations are possible in such areas without damaging the complex northern ecosystems. Using modern remote drilling capabilities it is possible to produce oil and gas even near specially protected natural areas.

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