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Gazprom Neft Deploys Unmanned Technologies in the Arctic

Source: 4/27/2020, Location: Asia

Unmanned trucks have undergone successful testing at the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field in the Gydan Peninsula in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YNAO). This joint Gazprom Neft—Kamaz project has been implemented under the challenging natural and climatic conditions of the Arctic, with the support of the Government of the YNAO. The main objective of these tests is to confirm the potential effectiveness of using unmanned vehicles: something which could improve safety in transporting freight, as well as in optimising supplies to inaccessible regions.

The legislative framework for implementing this project has arisen through regulatory amendments initiated by the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Russian Federation, directed at simplifying the basis for allowing highly-automated vehicles on public roads, and expanding the geographic scope for experimenting in testing them.

Unmanned vehicles proved their full potential as a digital resource during tests at the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field, including their ability to move along specific routes with a high degree of accuracy, exchange information through duplicate communications systems, recognise obstructions within a fraction of a second, and plot motion trajectories in live traffic conditions. Monitoring of unmanned trucks’ movements throughout the standalone oilfield, and on winter roads through the tundra of Gydan, was managed through a control centre set up at the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field, with Gazprom Neft subsidiary Gazpromneft-Snabzheniye’s Logistics Innovation Centre being responsible for managing the project from Gazprom Neft’s side.

As was noted by many project participants, the main advantage of unmanned vehicles is their unlimited operational integrity. Equipped with an autonomous control system, vehicles do not get tired or worn out, and do not make mistakes — even on challenging routes, and in freezing temperatures, blizzards, or poor visibility. In comparison with manned alternatives, unmanned KAMAZ trucks are safer, and can lead to reductions in freight costs of 10–15%.

KAMAZ covered 2,500 square kilometres in the course of its Arctic road-tests, completely accident-free. Testing at Vostochno-Messoyakha allowed oil specialists to fully evaluate the potential of new technologies under genuine Arctic conditions, and to secure confirmation as to the potential for the continuous operation of unmanned cargo vehicles in undertaking typical operations at northern oilfields.

On the basis of testing outcomes, Gazprom Neft will enhance its preparations for deploying unmanned vehicles throughout its logistics processes, and will continue to be actively involved in developing a regulatory framework governing the use of unmanned vehicles at Russian oilfields.

Having tested unmanned trucks in Yamal, Gazprom Neft embarked on a similar project in Yugra, supported by the Government of the Khanti-Mansi Autonomous Okrug and involving GAZ PJSC — another Russian developer of unmanned transport control technologies. Testing of unmanned vehicles commenced in April at Gazpromneft-Khantos’ Yuzhno-Priobskoye field, during the course of which a GAZelle NEXT Electro was successfully tried out — the goal here being to confirm the technology’s operability in such latitudes, taking existing connections, road coverings, and weather conditions into account and identifying areas for subsequent development. Going forward, deploying unmanned electric transport at the Yuzhno-Priobskoye field will facilitate better workplace safety, cut cots and reduce manmade environmental impacts.

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