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“For many years there has been a trend towards a general decrease in the volume of geological exploration”
Acting head of Rosnedra Evgeny Petrov on reserves, licenses and conflicts
Since the summer, intrigue has been developing around the approval of the head of Rosnedra. Then the acting head of the agency was appointed Evgeny Petrov, but the permanent candidacy of the head was not approved. During this time, various options for reforms in the management of the geological industry were proposed. In an interview with Kommersant, the acting head of Rosnedra, Yevgeny Petrov, told whether he wanted to get rid of the prefix “acting”, about approaches to managing the industry and about whether Rosgeologia could be competitive in the open market.
— The Soviet reserve for the discovery of large traditional deposits has been exhausted. What prospects do you see for new discoveries?
– Indeed, the backlog of deposits discovered in the Soviet period is ending, but I would like to note that a significant part of the fields that were not put into operation in the 70-80s were considered unprofitable at that time. In today’s terminology, their reserves could be called hard-to-recover. In the 1990-2000s, with the development of technology, they were put into operation. But even today there are fields discovered in the Soviet period, which are still unprofitable to put into development.
Regarding major discoveries, the potential of our country is enormous. First of all, I will say that only recently a number of major discoveries have been made both on the shelf and on land, but this has not been given much attention in the press.
For oil, these are fields in the Sea of Okhotsk – Triton and Neptune, in the Kara Sea – Victory, in the Krasnoyarsk Territory – West Irkinskoye. Gas fields were also discovered in the Kara Sea: Marshal Zhukov, Marshal Rokossovsky, 75 years of Victory. There are also great prospects in the old producing provinces – this is drilling for deep horizons. With the development of technologies, their development has become cost-effective and opens up opportunities of such a scale that they are already called the “second Western Siberia”.
The same applies to the study of the flanks of already developed fields: not all companies pay due attention to the flanks, but we are already actively engaged in this issue, and this will definitely increase production in traditional mining regions with very developed infrastructure.
We also recently discussed with Gazprom Neft a joint programme to study the Paleozoic complex and to develop criteria and methods by which these promising objects of the Paleozoic interval of Western Siberia can be distinguished. And this list of promising areas for both hydrocarbon raw materials (hydrocarbons) and solid minerals (TPI), which will give new discoveries, can be continued for a long time. It is important, of course, to note the Arctic – this is the groundwork that we will leave to future generations. We are actively working to increase the Russian sector of the Arctic shelf. I have been doing this work at the UN for many years and I can say unequivocally that this will give our country huge resources.
— How are the funds allocated within the framework of the subprogram “Reproduction of the Mineral Resource Base” (VMSB) used?
– If you answer briefly, then all budget funds within the framework of the VMSB are used rationally and extremely effectively. But, unfortunately, not so simple. For many years, there has been a trend towards a general decrease in the volume of geological exploration (exploration), especially at the early regional stages, for which the state is responsible in our person.
A lot of time has passed since the approval of the VMSB program, and the cost of work at the same level of funding is definitely growing.
In the same Yakutia, the cost of helicopter maintenance is growing annually by 20-30%, and this, of course, significantly affects the cost of our exploration projects. As a result, as a result, the volume of exploration is reduced. The obvious question is: what to do? One of the solutions we found is to reduce the cost of work, increase their efficiency and the ability to scale solutions. This requires us, first of all, more modern technologies – more mobile, energy-efficient, scalable. For example, we are now moving to the use of drones for geophysical work, because it is much cheaper to scale. We are actively introducing “green seismic survey” with non-blasting sources – this is more profitable than dragging the same large heavy vibration sources, and, in addition, causes minimal harm to the environment. But, unfortunately, some technologies, such as deep seismic exploration, deep drilling, require complex solutions that will never be cheap, and here we are trying to find financing. We managed to reverse the trend towards reducing exploration costs. So, in August, the defense of our part of the frontal strategy of socio-economic development was held, the project was approved. The strategic initiative “Geology: Revival of the Legend” involves the allocation over the next three years of 12 billion rubles. for geological exploration for all minerals, 15 billion rubles. for the rearmament of geological exploration enterprises of the public sector and 4 billion rubles. for three years. for the implementation of geopolitical interests of the Russian Federation in the Arctic, Antarctic and the Ocean. This is a big qualitative step forward for domestic geology.
— If funding is maintained at today’s level, will reproduction stagnate even more?
– You can’t say that about all kinds of minerals. For some types of mineral raw materials, yes, but this is due to the fact that production has increased dramatically at the same level of discovery and commissioning of new deposits. This is due to high market prices for a number of minerals of the noble group of metals, coal, which in the short term caused a sharp increase in production. Today, realizing that the energy transition is inevitable and the conjuncture of mineral consumption is changing, we are trying to reformat part of our internal processes. In particular, we are considering PPP mechanisms, including to allow subsoil users and service companies in general to work. Thus, we expect to expand reproduction in the second group of minerals, for which the achieved production levels are insufficiently provided with reserves of developed deposits for the period up to 2035 (oil, lead, gold, diamonds, zinc, especially pure quartz raw materials), and the third group, which includes scarce minerals, the domestic consumption of which is largely provided by forced imports and stored reserves. These are minerals, the mineral resource base of which in Russia is characterized mainly by low quality, such as uranium, manganese, chromium, titanium, bauxite, zirconium, beryllium, lithium, rhenium, rare lands of the yttrium group, bentonites for foundry production, etc. Today we are working with subsoil users on the question at what stage of regional work it would be economically profitable for them to enter. But here the state will strictly regulate the methods of study and the necessary amounts of work so that we can freely sew these results into the work on the state geological study of our country.
— Which of the subsoil users has an interest in regional works?
— The demand is unexpectedly high. These are oil and gas companies and companies in the TPI sector, especially those engaged in ore gold.
— Are we talking about partnerships with Rosgeolologia?
— Including with Rosgeolologia. This will be a market mechanism, a separate type of licensing, which will allow large-scale work (scale 20,000 and 50,000). The licensee will finance the work or use its production facilities to perform it. In the event of an opening, it will receive preferences when obtaining a license for additional exploration and further development of the field.
– But according to the results of regional work, no deposits are being discovered…
— Due to limited financial and technical resources, we mainly prepare promising areas, and then the subsoil user brings it to the field for its own or borrowed funds. Many companies have a need to expand the base, especially if we are talking about gold. Now many companies want to expand the resource base, but there are a very limited number of prepared objects on the market, and in prepared areas with high categories of resources, one-time payments at auctions are quite high and can amount to hundreds of millions and billions of rubles. By the end of the year, we hope to submit an initiative to allow business to enter the regional stage of exploration in the government. Thus, we are opening a new stage of reproduction of SMEs in terms of both state financing and attraction of extrabudgetary funds. It will be a qualitative leap.
— Which regions are oil and gas companies interested in?
– Today it is mainly Yamal, Taimyr and Yakutia. There are areas where the regional stage is not completed, and such licensing will allow you to force the passage of this stage. As for exploration, we want to reach a new round, to involve subsoil users, military-industrial complex companies, the scientific sector, and development institutions in the work. Our task is to reduce the cost of the chain of geological exploration. In particular, we have created a fleet of technologies – a kind of designer of the most effective technological chain. This tool gives subsoil users access to all the technologies that are on the market, and with specific results and examples of work, so that everyone can assemble the most effective set of solutions based on geological conditions. Today, many companies, such as Gazprom Neft and Rosneft, are ready to provide their solutions on market terms to other subsoil user companies. At the same time, it is also an opportunity for small technology companies to present their developments to the market so that their solutions are seen by large subsoil users. Another important initiative is the national program “30 technological polygons”, which is focused not only on hard-to-recover reserves, but also on poorly studied intervals – as, for example, the pre-Jurassic foundation of Western Siberia. The future of subsoil use lies in new technologies that will make working with hard-to-recover reserves profitable, and we have introduced a new type of licensing – technological polygons that are needed in order to test and test such technologies in real geological conditions. In the future, this will allow them to be introduced into operation and increase the marginality of deposits throughout the country. This, in turn, will give new life to the old mining regions, and in the future will allow to establish the export of Russian technologies. Such landfills will be in all major oil and gas provinces. In the future, we plan to expand this to the TPI, but here it is a little more complicated, because there is much more variability in solid minerals. Therefore, follow the announcements, we invite everyone to participate, especially technology companies.
– The government will allocate 15 billion rubles for the rearmament of Rosgeologia. for three years. Where will the funds go?
— The holding really has a noticeable deterioration of fixed assets in a number of areas of activity. But we are talking about the entire sector of state-owned exploration enterprises. The funds are allocated within the framework of the frontal strategy and will be directed directly to the technical re-equipment of field parties so that they meet all the modern requirements of subsoil users and can be competitive in the open market of services.
— How will the position of Rosgeologia change after rearmament?
— The holding will definitely become more competitive in the open market. In addition, our initiatives in terms of attracting additional investments in geological exploration will increase the volume of geological exploration, and the updated Rosgeologia will find its place in them not only within the framework of the state order.
— How do you assess the financial situation of the holding?
— As the example of the improvement of Geotek shows, state-owned companies can be successful, but it is necessary to take a more flexible approach to working with retrospective accounts payable formed for various reasons. As for the financial statements of Rosgeologia, starting from this year there is definitely a positive trend, it should be noted the positive work of the holding’s management. But in general, I agree: the picture with the financial situation is still not easy, and it is aggravated by the general decline in the exploration market and sharp competition in the market, in particular price dumping in competitions – not only our state order, but also in the market as a whole. At the level of both the board of directors and the management board of the holding, work is now underway to identify and strengthen growth points in order to stimulate its development.
– Why “Rosgeologia” lost the status of the only executor of the state order for geological study, is there any idea to restore it?
— The past few years have shown that in such a role the holding has not shown significant results. This was confirmed by the reports of inspections of the Accounts Chamber. I believe that geological exploration is a market, competitive history. If there is no market, then there is no development.
— Who is the holding the most competition? How much state contracts did they take this year?
– On the shelf, MAGE and Sovcomflot are closely competing with it. In fact, these are three whales that have ships and competences left. If we talk about land, including drilling, then both in hard and PVS there is very high competition, five or six participants enter the state order objects, the whole market participates: both small companies and large subsoil users who have their own geological exploration enterprises.
— But do you think it is right that Rosgeologia began to participate in tenders, and not to receive them without bidding?
– Now we see competition and, as a result, a significant reduction in cost – at the end of last year, budget savings amounted to more than 20%. In addition, previously there was a constant violation of the deadlines for the performance of work, which led to the formation of significant amounts of balances due to non-performance. For example, last year they amounted to 4.2 billion rubles.
— Is Rosgeologia able to perform the tasks that it now faces?
— The holding is a monopolist in a number of areas of work. Some of its enterprises are indispensable for us – we are talking about unique competencies, such as, for example, engineering drilling on the shelf, exploration in the Oceans. The rearmament program will give a second wind to the holding, but within its framework we need to make exactly those accents that will be in demand by the market and the state so that the company remains stable regardless of market conditions. In addition, Rosgeologia has a huge potential in foreign markets, which also needs to be used. We hope that the rearmament will give some start for participation in large international projects.
— What projects can we talk about?
— These are primarily African and Asian countries, where there is a demand for the participation of Russian companies at different stages of geological study. We can occupy this niche: we need competencies, and we have them in our country, we need easily scalable technological solutions, which in varying degrees of development also exist in the country. This is not only geological exploration technologies, but also an IT unit.
Separately, we can distinguish a block of countries that have a significant national debt to the Russian Federation. In these countries, there is enormous potential for Russian exploration companies and subsoil users.
– That is, the scheme is as follows: Rosgeologia conducts exploration, and in the case of opening in exchange for the national debt, Russian players will be able to obtain the right to develop?
– In general, if simplified, then yes, the scheme is. Under this mechanism, countries with a national debt to Russia will be able to provide Russian companies at the first stage with the right to search for and explore minerals at their own expense and on the second stage to develop open mineral resources to repay the national debt. This will create a mining industry in these countries, part of the revenues will go to repay the national debt, expand the international field of activity of Russian companies and will be an effective tool of Russian “soft power”. All sides win.
— What do you think about the idea of creating a state corporation on the basis of Rosgeologia?
– This idea was already discussed at the government site a few years ago, the reaction of the departments was negative, and it was abandoned at that time. In fact, it is proposed to make the company both a regulator and a market participant. Here, a priori, there is an insoluble conflict of interest. This would lead to direct competition with Rosneft, Gazprom and other subsoil users, including TPI. I have already said that geological exploration is a market history. As for such state corporations as Roscosmos, Rosatom, they have their own niches, where there is no competition, they perform monopoly, purely state functions.
– According to our information, the head of the Ministry of Natural Resources Alexander Kozlov sees Rosnedra as part of the department of the ministry…
– This is all at the level of rumors, it is difficult to comment on the reform of the industry. I can say that in connection with the growing environmental agenda and the energy transition, the reform of the industry is necessary, and it has already been gradually launched, including through digital transformation. Our state has a significant part of its income formed by subsoil use, and, as a result, we should have our own strong geological service that determines the trends in the development of the world market of mineral raw materials. Today, significant changes are taking place in the world that open up new opportunities for us, and the industry needs a single strategic management body, the headquarters of the industry, which will be able to comprehensively program its development in the interests of the country. The center, which professionally works with geological data, coordinates subsoil users, oversees the development of technologies. These are key state functions that are quite difficult to transfer to someone. Here you can rely on historical experience: in our country, it was the work of a separate, independent body responsible for subsoil use that showed its effectiveness, which corresponded to the strategic importance of the industry. From the Petrovsky Berg Collegium to the Soviet Ministry of Geology, it was this model that ensured rapid transformations and intensive development of the industry. And today the state should focus its attention on its problems and tasks.
– There were alternative proposals for reform…
— The main direction of reform today is the digital transformation of the industry. What we’re doing now is a change of era, we’re moving to managing the industry from data. As for administrative changes, any administrative reform is a comprehensive measure that requires, among other things, a broad change in the regulatory framework.
— What innovations are proposed in the framework of digital transformation?
—We are aimed at reducing the time frame and maximum transparency. From next year, we are moving to a registry model, the licenses will be in electronic form, with integral documents that are an integral part of the license, such as documentation for assessing reserves, technical documentation for the development of the field. All auctions will be held electronically through state trading platforms. Our federal information systems are becoming key for regional authorities and will permeate through the federal and regional levels. This is a very big step forward. Procedures related to the assessment of reserves, field development projects are also moving to electronic form. This will largely change the work, including within Rosnedra and our territorial bodies.
— What part of the documentation has already been translated into electronic format?
— Does the declarative principle of licensing justify itself? There were many scandals and controversies around him.
– It cannot be said that the declarative principle did not justify itself: at one time its introduction was a big step forward and contributed to the development of the industry. But of course, the regulatory apparatus must develop, and this work is underway, and in a close dialogue with subsoil users, in order to understand that it is necessary to improve or, conversely, close the existing gaps in the legislation. In particular, we are working to close loopholes in the mechanism based on the declarative principle, because, unfortunately, a lot of the licenses taken, especially for TPI, are speculative in nature, and not all companies really invest in geological exploration. In particular, now we are introducing an important restriction: the territories where exploration is carried out at the expense of the budget will be closed for licensing on the declarative principle, which will exclude the use of insider information. If we look more broadly, then in general we transfer the center of activities from the declarative principle to auctions. It will be a transparent mechanism – and without speculation. The first application was submitted, it hung off, received a license for geolearning. If there are still those who wish, they automatically go to the auction.
– Since last year, the declarative principle began to apply in respect of sites in the territorial sea and in inland sea waters. Are you afraid that companies will gain licenses and will not invest enough?
– We are not afraid. This is a market of qualified investors, companies with great competencies, and they clearly understand all the risks.
— Polyus has an idea to legalize the free circulation of search licenses. Did they make specific proposals?
– The turnover of licenses exists de facto – in the form of resale of legal entities. Within the framework of the WEF, the free circulation of licenses for geological exploration was discussed. It is necessary to translate this process into an orderly plane. This meets the objectives of the transformation of the industry and will contribute to the development of market activity. All financial institutions will be against the turnover of mining licenses, since now, in fact, the field is an object of pledge. As for licenses for geological exploration, companies take them on a declarative basis and conduct research, but face a lack of funds with very large geological prospects of the site. At the same time, they have not yet put reserves on the balance sheet, they do not yet have the object itself, under which you can take money, that is, the lack of the possibility of attracting investments does not allow them to finish the work.
And such a turnover of licenses can really cause additional interest from investors, which will contribute to an increase in the volume of exploration.
Rosnedra as a regulator is now working to develop an effective mechanism and legislative framework for such an innovation. State regulation, of course, will play a key role in this mechanism: strict control over compliance with license obligations and the procedure for the geological study process is necessary.
— How, in your opinion, is it possible to increase the rate of reproduction of SMEs?
— The fundamental problem of the industry is that the assessment of mineral reserves does not take into account the economic realities of their extraction and processing. The state has data on geological and technologically recoverable reserves, but there is no up-to-date data on the volume of economically viable reserves. Today, it is critically important to expand the methodology of geological and economic assessment of the efficiency of reserves. On a national scale, this will make it possible to identify a number of key technologies that could reduce the cost of production chains in many fields and involve previously economically unprofitable reserves in the development. We must work to improve the efficiency of technologies and reduce costs, and not just give economic benefits or tax incentives for the development of the field.
— Is tax incentives an ineffective tool?
“The tax incentives that we have now are an extremely important tool, but tactical. If tax incentives become the only tool for adapting to changed economic conditions, they begin to play a negative role: they do not just preserve the resulting disparity in cost and price – it reduces the stability of the entire economic system. And this is not a one-time decrease, it is a constant factor. Tax incentives are a kind of ambulance, the task of which is to take the patient to the hospital. And it’s an important tool because it’s often a matter of life and death. But then it needs to be treated. Only technological re-equipment can really turn the page in Russian subsoil use, move on to the development of our richest TRIZ. That is why we consider it necessary to introduce an additional tool – technological incentives. Its mechanism assumes that the state invests in the development of technologies critical for the industry (and subsoil users themselves can participate in these developments through their STC), then, together with subsoil users, tests them at technological landfills (we have already implemented this tool), and then provides them to all interested subsoil users. Since we are talking here about the development and testing of critical technologies, this will reduce the cost of technological chains throughout the country and change the situation in the industry as a whole, opening a new chapter in the life of entire regions. In the future, this will allow to establish the export of Russian technologies. This is a game of increase for both the industry and the country.
– Due to the restrictions of OPEC+ in some fields, wells were frozen, is it possible to fully restore production at them?
– Rosnedra agreed on the reduction only where it was possible without damage to the field itself, so that then the wells could be put into operation again painlessly with minimal losses. So we provided conditions for the functioning of the industry during the transaction period. It is thanks to this that the situation is now returning to normal.
Do you plan to return to the inventory of oil reserves? Incentive measures have not been developed?
— As part of the inventory of reserves, we carried out work on fields with reserves of more than 5 million tons. This was the first big step towards developing incentive measures. We have already seen the bottlenecks that need to be worked on not only by the state, but also by the entire market as a whole. The Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Finance conducted a differentiation on taxes to determine specific measures and the level of efficiency. Again, in terms of state planning, we should use the concept of profitable reserves: this will give a deeper understanding of reserves as a dynamic quantity linked to a wide range of socio-economic issues. Thus, the real assessment of reserves depends not only on geology, but also on market prices, the availability of certain technologies or on the situation with the infrastructure around the field. The construction of one road or pipeline can dramatically increase the figure of profitable reserves and thus affect the socio-economic development of the whole area. Therefore, when we say that the availability of profitable reserves for oil is 21 years, then this figure should be considered in dynamics – depending on current prices and available technologies, it can change both in a large and in a smaller direction. We did not stop the work on inventory – it moved to a new level as part of digital transformation, this step should have been done earlier. In addition, we have begun work on gas inventory. For gas on the state balance, the figures are large, but we need to understand how much gas, in what volumes, with what profitability we have, what infrastructure we have. Our infrastructure is still more sharpened for dry gas, and subsoil users have fatty gas, which, of course, imposes its own restrictions.
– On gas, this work will definitely begin. And on TPI?
— The dialogue has begun, and companies also understand that this issue is important. On the TPI, we are still working on a new classification of reserves. In order to start an inventory, you need to go through a lot of work in terms of the classification itself and approve approaches to economic valuation. Under the current TPI classification, there is no concept of profitable reserves. There is an economics of projects, but we want to harmonize approaches to economic valuation with the international one by analogy with hydrocarbons, including using both positive and negative experience in changing the classification of reserves.
— As part of the oil inventory, is a downsquaging assessment planned this time?
– The previous assessment was carried out on the objects as a whole, and now we want to carry out work on down-to-well accounting. This is a very large amount of information, the work is very complex, requires a serious load on the State Commission on Reserves (GKZ), operational information, including from subsoil users, on the current well stock… Such work is underway.
— Don’t you think that subsoil users will deliberately manipulate data on wells? And how will their reliability be verified?
— I talked about the creation of big data mechanisms — it will be difficult to manipulate. We move on to working with permanent geological models, that is, not just a set of maps and reports, but a digital geological model with all the initial geological data is handed over to the same reserve calculation. Any modern software for working with geological models allows you to very effectively compare interpretation methods, and we clearly see who has what deviations. In the presence of primary data, statistics on neighboring fields will be difficult to manipulate. And it should be noted that subsoil users for the most part are not interested in misleading the state.
— What major auctions are planned this year, what is the budget plan for the sale of licenses?
– Today, the plan has already been exceeded: with a plan of 47 billion rubles. already held bidding for 65.8 billion rubles. of which 34.8 billion rubles have already been credited to the budget, the rest will arrive before the end of the year. Recently, a major auction was held for the Vostochnoye Malyginskoye field: it was a very competitive auction, the price increased from 487 million to 12 billion rubles. There were 114 steps, Gazprom won. Prior to this, there were major auctions for the Arctic and Neutinskoye fields (13 billion rubles were collected), Severo-Shrubmovoye (17 billion rubles), Kuchyus (7.7 billion rubles). Ahead of several auctions in Yamal, Volgograd region.
— A few years ago, the idea of creating a national auditor of mineral reserves was voiced, now it is being considered?
– In our country, all reserves belong to the state, so the body for their assessment and accounting should also be state-owned. And such a body exists – this is the GKZ. Another thing is that audit is a trust mechanism, so we need to seek recognition of our assessments by Russian and foreign financial institutions. Therefore, the transition to a geological and economic model for assessing profitable reserves is so important. At the same time, we must not forget that the audit of reserves is both a matter of national security: it is access to sensitive data, and additional sanctions risks when working with Western auditors (the risk of revocation of ratings). Therefore, Russia, as a sovereign state, must ensure its sovereignty in the field of auditing reserves. The current situation, in which several Anglo-Saxon companies control the global market for the audit of reserves, is a vestige of the colonial era, unacceptable in the modern world. But, as I have already said, audit is primarily a mechanism of trust, so the issue of national audit cannot be solved by purely administrative measures.
— Who owns the proposals for the creation of auditors?
— These are business communities that are not directly related to subsoil use. They have competences in assessing reserves, in creating economic models. Such companies are generally few, as large subsoil users develop this competence within themselves.
— Is there now a moratorium on the issuance of offshore licenses?
— Most of the Russian shelf has already been licensed. Based on geological prerequisites, it is these areas that have the greatest potential in terms of the discovery of large gas or oil fields. Geological exploration works are carried out on them – both seismic and drilling. The remaining part of the undistributed subsoil fund located in the Russian jurisdiction is unprospective from a geological point of view.
— In what perspective can full-scale development of the shelf begin?
– First you need to deal with geology. Now the stage of geological study is actively underway. The work is carried out by the forces of subsoil users, and the institutes of Rosnedra. Our task as a regulator is to coordinate these works in such a way that they give the greatest effect. This is how we harmonized the state program of stratigraphic drilling on the Arctic shelf with a similar program of Rosneft. After receiving the first drilling results, it will be possible to talk about detailed geological models, about what the scenario will be, gas or oil, for sedimentary basins. Financial models and plans will already follow from this – this is the prospect of five years for sure, after which we can talk about the timing of the commissioning of deposits. At the same time, I omit the issue of technologies for the development of fields on the shelf. There is a huge gap here, the Russian Arctic, especially the East Arctic seas, has no analogues in complexity. It will be a serious challenge.
— Did the JV of NOVATEK and Gazprom Neft provide their assessment of the resource base for the Severo-Wrangelevsky area?
– A large-scale exploration program is currently being implemented in this area, and with each kilometer of seismic exploration, the estimates can fundamentally change. Let’s wait for the completion of the work, I can say that the prospects there are great.
— For the Yuzhno-Kirinskoye field, what are the terms of commissioning?
— Today it is one of the most prepared for commercial development of offshore fields. A technical development scheme has already been agreed on the main contour of the field. In accordance with the license obligations, commissioning should take place in 2024, the planned capacity is 21 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
— In 2020, as a result of exploration, the increase in recoverable coal reserves amounted to 394 million tons, although 500 million tons were planned under the coal industry development program. What is the reason for this lag?
– Today, the main factor contributing to this in traditional coal mining regions is the limitations of infrastructure and the ability to deliver raw materials to ports. In addition, the need to comply with environmental requirements imposes high costs on subsoil users. And, unfortunately, the pandemic has also been a deterrent for all subsoil users, including the coal industry. This year and next year, it is planned to transfer to the use of a number of promising areas with the Usinskoye fields in Komi, Iberian in Khakassia, Krasnochiyskoye in the Trans-Baikal Territory, Erkovetskoye in the Amur Region.
— Has the potential for the discovery of large coal deposits been exhausted? And which regions, in your opinion, are promising?
— As the most promising areas for new discoveries, we consider the main little-studied giant basins, such as the Tunguska and Lena, as well as traditional coal mining centers – Kuznetsk, South Yakutsk, Kansk-Achinsk.
— The idea of raising the threshold of strategic gold reserves from 50 to 200 tons was discussed, which would simplify the attraction of foreign investment in the industry. Is it relevant now?
– A few years ago, Rosnedra together with the Ministry of Natural Resources prepared the relevant draft law, in 2019 it was submitted to the government, but there were negative conclusions of the departments on it. Discussion of the draft is now suspended.
– The Ministry of Finance wants to increase the tax burden on mining. Do you expect a decrease in investment in this regard?
— First of all, we are talking about industries for which in recent years there has been a particularly favorable market environment. In any case, we are talking about a balanced, differentiated, multivariate approach agreed with market participants. I would also like to emphasize that the raw material base is a condition for the functioning of the industry, so reducing investment in its reproduction is not beneficial to anyone and, above all, to the mining companies themselves. We will stand for the fact that geological exploration and new projects, which are partly financed from the profits of mining companies, will not suffer. In the field of TPI, each deposit is literally unique: different percentage concentrations of useful components, different composition of ore, different design solutions, extremely different cost of production…
— What compromise do you see in the dialogue on raising the mineral extraction tax with the Ministry of Finance?
— Just the transition to an economic model. Based on the profitability of developments, from the economics of projects, so as not to take everyone under one comb. Our proposal is based on the use of technical development projects to assess the mineral extraction tax, these are economically justified figures.
— Would you like to take the post of head of Rosnedra?
– Good question. Today, not me, but Rosnedra as a team is doing a great job. The measures to transform the industry that we are implementing today are necessary objectively. They meet the challenges that face today not only the industry, but also the country. Of course, for me, these tasks are more than just interesting work. My whole life is connected with geology: I was born in the village of geologists, graduated from the geological faculty of Moscow University, worked in the industry all my life and always just did my job. Good or bad, time will tell, but I can say that I do not regret anything in my work in different positions. Therefore, if the Government entrusts me to continue my work, I, for my part, will make all necessary efforts. It is my duty to finish what I and my colleagues have started for the good of our country.
– Are there other candidates?
– I don’t have such information, but I’ll be happy to meet you personally.
– According to some reports, the Ministry of Natural Resources discussed the candidacy of the director of the department of the ministry Sergey Khovrat for the post of head of Rosnedra …
– As for the approval of the candidacy of the head of the agency, this is entirely the prerogative of the government, there is nothing to comment on here.