Yamal LNG Project

The Yamal LNG site is based in Sabetta on the Yamal Peninsula. The $27bn project includes a shipping port, an airport, resident facilities, a gas production and liquefaction plant, and is owned by Novatek (50%), Total (20%), China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) (20%), and Silk Road Fund (10%). Velesstroy's scope of work included development and drilling of exploratory wells, the site and pile foundation for Train 1, 2 & 3 of LNG plant. Also, 26 wells have been drilled. Dredging was carried out in the port of Sabetta that helped to open winter navigation. This enabled more than 2.5 times increase loads accepted in 2014 goods including equipment and materials needed to continue construction. The first phase of Sabetta international airport that is able to accept aircrafts such as Boeing 737 has also been done by the company.

Spring of 2015. After establishing a private security company with a friend of mine 3 years earlier, business was going good for the both of us. Nevertheless, I was thinking for a while how I would like to get back to the field of HSE. At the time, my brother was working in Moscow for 2 years already. One day he texted me that a huge project is rolling on Yamal peninsula and that I should check it out if I’m interested. I did a bit of research and responded to a job ad that I found online. Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by Mr. Zeljko Posmodi, regional HSE Manager for “Velesstroy” on “Yamal LNG project”. In May I was flying to Russia.

Although I did my homework on the project and the place where I was going, nothing could prepare me for the things I was to experience. Polar nights, -57 degrees celsius, polar bears and foxes. Remote construction site in Siberia, the nearest town Novy Urengoy located 600km from the site. No roads, no railway, no settlements for 600km. The only connection with the world was an international airport built on site with direct flights to Moscow and Novy Urengoy. At peak, there was 32 thousand workers on the site, 12 thousand under the flag of “Velesstroy”. Site covered an area of 20km x 15km. Russian lake Baikal stores 1/5 of the world’s fresh water resources. Today, the amount of gas produced on Yamal (596 billion m3) is comparable to 25 thousand lake Baikal’s.

My career on Yamal started with the position of an HSE officer. Cooperation with the client's HSE team, daily site inspections, ensuring that all conditions are met before approving and signing permit to work for tasks that required it. I have participated in the making of lifting plans that were done by the construction team and supervised heavy liftings. Also, I have organised and conducted safety stand-downs after accidents and near misses with accent on causes and lessons learned.

In the summer of 2017. during one of my off rotations, I went to Scotland and spend a month in Glasgow attending NEBOSH lectures. Had a wonderful and very productive time with Martin Crankshaw of NC Skills and my Scottish colleagues that took the classes with me. A lot of exchange of interesting experiences with people that work in different types of industry. I passed the exam from the first go and received my NEBOSH General Certificate accreditation.

Although I’m pretty well versed in the English language, I had little use for it on Yamal except during meetings with French colleagues from “Vinci”. Everyone else spoke only Russian so in a couple of months I learned the basics and in less than a year my Russian was on such a level that I was promoted to the position of an HSE trainer. At the same time, I finished 1-month qualification course for an HSE Specialist in Moscow. That's an equivalent of NEBOSH in Russia so I got an HSE accreditation valid in the Russian federation.

As an HSE Trainer I gave lectures in Croatian, Russian and occasionally English for visiting guests. Besides lecturing, I was writing and updating training materials for inductions, work at heights, work in confined space and other targeted trainings deemed necessary according to results of my site inspections. In all, around 10.000 people passed through my classroom in a year and a half.