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Read the fragment of the interview with Vladimir Mulyak, General Director of JSC LUKOIL-Komi


Oil of Russia No. 3, 2004




The oil industry of the Republic of Komi marks its 75th birthday this year. This is a comparatively old oil-producing region which has known its ups and downs. One of those "downs" occurred in the mid-1990s. Today, however, the Republic's oil industry is successfully overcoming the consequences of that difficult period. Actually, it is living through its "second birth".

Q: In your opinion, why do people sometimes refer to the Komi oil industry as being of a "ripe old age"?

A: Indeed, in characterizing this or that oil-producing region, people compare it with man's age periods – they talk about "young", "mature" and "old" regions. And so the 75th jubilee of the Komi oil industry does not mean that we are dealing with an "old" region. True, it is "ripe" but quite "active", and its prospects are good. Today, the Timan-Pechora oil- and gas-bearing province has the largest resource base in Northwestern Russia. And although some of the oil fields there have really been exhausted, new ones are being put into service. Moreover, its advantageous geographical location with access to the sea coast, its infrastructure and the system of pipelines constructed there, as well as its human resources make the Timan-Pechora province one of the regions most attractive to investors and promising for Russia's oil production.

Q: Have the consequences of the "disastrous' 1990s been fully overcome? If not, what hinders overcoming them?

A: Our main achievement of the past five years is that we have managed to reverse the dynamics of development. I must tell you that the operating conditions at our oil fields are much worse than in most other regions. The Republic of Komi has a complete "collection" of factors that hinder the work of oilmen. They include: a high gas-oil ratio, high saturation pressures, high-viscosity oil, a higher-than-normal paraffin content, the presence of hydrogen sulfide, and incredible equipment corrosion rates. Besides, most oil fields in the Timan-Pechora province are much smaller than, say, those in Western Siberia. We are working 48 fields, while they contain over 150 oil pools. LUKOIL-Komi came, for the most part, to old fields –Usinskoye, Vozeiskoye, Western Tebuk, etc. – which are in the third stage of development. Quite often we have to reject the old, defective system of development and replace it with another, a better one.

Q: Can the oil and gas complex of the Republic of Komi today become a production and manpower base for developing the oil and gas resources of the subarctic regions of European Russia and the shelf of the northern seas?

A: The human resources situation is as follows: when we began working here, we did not have a single young specialist. Today, there are over a hundred of them. And this is very important. We devote much attention to work with young personnel. That includes cooperation with the Usinsk Branch of Ukhta State Technical University, drawing young specialists from other higher schools, and holding various specialized conferences and contests. Every young specialist here is provided with the opportunity to do practical work in all the basic sectors for 12-18 months under a personal supervisor. Then he is free to choose what he likes. By that time this specialist has a wide perspective of what's going on around him and perfectly orients himself in the entire activity of the Company. I believe that this kind of practice may be regarded as training manpower for developing the northern fields.


2. Find the English equivalents in the interview:


Сравнительно старый нефтедобывающий регион; преодолевать последствия; нефтегазоносная провинция; истощенное нефтяное месторождение; пускать в эксплуатацию; выгодное географическое положение; иметь доступ к морскому побережью; делать привлекательным для инвесторов; мешать работе; отказаться от старой системы разработки; привлекать молодых специалистов; предоставлять возможность; под надзором руководителя; ориентироваться в работе компании; рабочая сила.


3. Answer the questions:


1. What are the advantages of the Komi oil-producing region?

2. What factors hinder the work of oilmen?

3. Is the Timan-Pechora province the largest oil-field in Russia?

4. How does JSC LUKOIL-Komi work with young specialists?


Sum up the text using your answers to the questions from ex.3.

Text C



Read the text.


“Rock oil originates as tiny bodies of animals buried in the sediments which, under the influence of increased temperature and pressure acting during an unimaginably long period of time, transform into rock oil”

Academician Mikhailo V. Lomonosov


Petroleum, or crude oil, in one form or another, is not a recent discovery. The earliest known oil wells were drilled in China in 347 CE1 or earlier. They had depths of up to about and were drilled using bits attached to bamboo poles. The first streets of Baghdad were paved with tar, derived from petroleum that became accessible from natural fields in the region. In the 9th century, oil fields were exploited in the area around modern Baku, Azerbaijan, to produce naphtha. The modern history of petroleum began in 1846 with the discovery of the process of refining kerosene from coal by Abraham Gesner. In 1854, Benjamin Silliman, a science professor at Yale University in New Haven, was the first to fractionate petroleum by distillation. These discoveries rapidly spread around the world, and the first Russian refinery was built in the mature oil fields at Baku in 1861. At that time Baku produced about 90% of the world's oil.

When retired railroad conductor Edwin Drake struck oil in 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania, he touched off the modern oil industry. For the next 40 years the primary interest in oil was as a source of kerosene, used for lighting lamps. Then came the automobile and the realization that the internal combustion engine ran best on gasoline, a byproduct of the process of extracting kerosene from crude oil. As the demand grew for gasoline to power not only cars but also internal combustion engines of all kinds, chemical engineers discovered a lot of useful byproducts of crude – and the petrochemical industry was born. Oil had truly become black gold.

There are some important landmarks in the history of the petrochemical industry:

1901 is the year when North America’s first oil gusher blows at the Spindletop field near Beaumont in southeastern Texas, spraying more than 800,000 barrels of crude into the air before it can be brought under control.

In 1913 a new method of oil refining was developed. Chemical engineers William Burton and Robert Humphreys of Standard Oil patent a method of oil refining that significantly increases gasoline yields. The chemists discover that by applying both heat and pressure during distillation, heavier petroleum molecules can be broken down, or cracked, into gasoline’s lighter molecules. This process is known as thermal cracking.

In 1920s – 1940s, a range of new compounds made from byproducts of the oil-refining process enters the market. They were synthetic fibers and resins including nylon, acrylics, and polyester, and were used to make everything from clothing and sports gear to industrial equipment, parachutes, and plexiglass.

Among the technical breakthroughs in the world oil industry in the 1920s, a special place is held by the invention in 1922 of the downhole turbodrill motor by the Russian engineer Matvey Kapelyushnikov, which opened the way for the mass introduction of turbodrilling in the industry.

By mounting a derrick and drilling rig onto a submersible barge, Texas oilman Louis Giliasso creates in 1928 an efficient portable method of offshore drilling.The transportable barge allows erecting a rig in a day, which makes exploration easier.

In 1930s, U.S. refineries introduce a new process of alkalinization that increases the octane rating of aviation gasoline to 100. In 1936 a French scientist Eugene Houdry introduces catalytic cracking. By using silica and alumina-based catalysts, he demonstrates that gasoline has a higher octane rating and burns more efficiently.

In 1947 the world’s first commercial oil well is drilled in the Gulf of Mexico, 45 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana. Eleven oil fields are mapped in the gulf by 1949, with 44 exploratory wells in operation.

In 1955 the first jack-up oil-drilling rig is designed for offshore exploration. The rig features long legs that can be lowered into the seabed to a depth of 500 feet, allowing the platform to be raised to various heights above the level of the water.

The introduction of digital seismology in oil exploration in 1970s increases accuracy in locating underground pools of oil. The technique of using seismic waves to look for oil is based on determining the time interval between the sending of a sound wave and the arrival of reflected waves at one or more seismic detectors.

Over the next decade, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are developed for subsea oil work. Controlled from the surface, ROVs vary from beach ball-size cameras to truck-size maintenance robots.

1990s – the introduction of several new tools and techniques designed to reduce the costs and risks of drilling, including reducing potential damage to the geological formation and improving environmental protection.

In 2000 The Hoover-Diana, a 63,000-ton deep-draft caisson vessel, goes into operation in the Gulf of Mexico. A joint venture by Exxon Mobil and BP, it is a production platform mounted atop a floating cylindrical concrete tube anchored in 4,800 feet of water. The entire structure is 83 stories high, with 90 per cent of it below the surface. Within half a year it is producing 20,000 barrels of oil and 220 million cubic feet of gas a day. Two pipelines carry the oil and gas to shore.


1 Christian Era or Common Era = C.E. - н.э.


Choose the best answer.

1. Where did oil production begin?

a. in the Caspian region;

b. in Saudi Arabia;

c. in Syberia.

2. The biggest oil producer in the mid 19th century was

a. America;

b. Azerbaijan;

c. China.

3. Crude oil production increased by the end of the 20th century due to

a. manufacturing of lightning lamps;

b. automobile era;

c. extracting kerosene.

4. Digital seismology enabled to

a. locate underground pools of oil more carefully;

b. locate underground pools of oil with less cost;

c. locate underground pools of oil more exactly.

5. ROVs were introduced in

a. 80s;

b. 90s;

c. 2000s.

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