The 100th participant — Yandex.Cloud — has now joined the Petersburg Energy TechnoHub, established by the St Petersburg City Government with the involvement of Gazprom Neft, registering as an “Electronic Resident” and marking a five-fold increase in the number of Energy TechnoHub residents over the past three months.*
Project participants have joined forces to address 70 technological challenges in the energy industry in 2020, including projects in developing renewable energy as well as in developing high-tech services, automation and industrial-safety systems, geological prospecting tools, underwater equipment and robotised drilling technologies.
One successful project in the Energy TechnoHub ecosystem was the development of Russia’s first seabed stations for offshore seismic works. This model has been named the “CRAB”, and has been developed to order for Gazprom Neft and the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Russian Federation by engineers at the St Petersburg State Marine Technical University. More than 3,000 CRABs are already in use in exploring oil fields in the Sea of Okhotsk. The project is now continuing its development, with “Flounder” seismic recording stations — the second modification of the original CRAB model, designed for deepwater operations on the Russian Arctic Shelf — having been successfully tested in the Barents Sea in November 2020.
Energy TechnoHub participants have also developed a formulation for a dispersant (a chemical agent that destroys the surface film on oil, allowing it to be broken up) capable of clearing oil spills under ice conditions. This dispersant has been developed in line with the climatic conditions of Arctic seas. It is, currently, the only reagent in Russia appropriate for oil-spill response in low temperatures. This project is being implemented together with another Energy TechnoHub Electronic Resident, the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology (MIPT) Centre for Engineering and Technology.
A further innovative project concerns the development of a new-generation automated drilling module, being undertaken by Electronic Residents Uralmash NGO Holding, Yandex.Cloud and Bitrobotics — famous for its involvement in the international project to develop the Boeing-NASA lunar programme.
This year saw the first international companies joining the Energy TechnoHub project. Together with Austria’s TDE Group, several Russian companies are now directly involved in developing a high-speed data-transmission system for oil- and gas-well directional drilling. And Energy TechnoHub residents, in partnership with Belgian company Khaos and international R&D organisation IMEC, plan to develop technologies for detecting greenhouse gas leaks.
“The key principle in the Energy TechnoHub’s work is that we build cooperation with leading companies and institutions in St Petersburg, and throughout the country, as a whole. Our partnerships help residents reach a level of collaboration that was previously not possible. There hasn’t been any kind of technological centre like this in Russia — operating at the level of an entire city, developing electronic-residency status, and relocation programmes — before.”Andrei Vlasov Head of the Petersburg Energy TechnoHub Project Office, Gazprom Neft
A R&D test-site is planned for St Petersburg in order to speed up developments for new equipment. So far, the concept for this has been developed, with plans in place for the preparation of design documentation and subsequent construction. Energy TechnoHub residents currently have the opportunity to test their technologies through a network of test centres at higher educational centres and industrial enterprises throughout St Petersburg.
Energy Clubs at the Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University, ITMO University, the St Petersburg State Institute of Technology, the State University of Aerospace Automation and St Petersburg State Marine Technical University have all joined the TechnoHub ecosystem. These communities bring together students, PhD candidates and university graduates whose ideas will, one day, grow into business projects in traditional and renewable energy. An EnergyLab accelerator has been established to support start-ups, having made the first presentation on its initial projects in early December. This presentation generated considerable interest, bringing together several dozen entrepreneurs and potential investors, with Saudi Aramco and several venture funds reviewing projects in addition to Gazprom Neft.
The agreement on launching the St Petersburg Energy TechnoHub project was signed at the end of 2019 by St Petersburg Governor Alexander Belgov, Gazprom Neft CEO Alexander Dyukov, and CEO of the Agency for Technological Development (an independent non-governmental organisation (NGO)) Vladimir Pastukhov. This document envisages joint activities in attracting industrial and energy corporations’ engineering departments to the city, as well as supporting the establishment of local technological start-ups and project teams. The number of high-tech companies in St Petersburg is expected to increase six-fold by 2030 as a result of the TechnoHub being established there. This will allow major orders arising from R&D and engineering projects in the energy sector — in which about RUB100 billion a year is invested in Russia — to be concentrated at enterprises and research centres in the city.
* An “Electronic Residency” is a simple way for a company to take part in the project, virtually. This model introduces the Energy TechnoHub, and the principles it operates on, to the market, allowing full immersion in the innovation community. Potential participants undergo a simple registration process on the project site and are given access to client jobs on the Energy TechnoHub, as well as access to support from the Project Office. The attractiveness of this format lies in the fact that residents can start working on jobs and cases from any corner of the world. The next stage of this project envisages Electronic Residents getting more deeply integrated into the Energy TechnoHub — in considering relocation to St Petersburg to implement specific projects, and acquiring the status of Residents, with an additional package of economic privileges and incentives.
** A dispersant is active substance used to improve the separation of suspended particles and prevent them from settling or aggregating. Dispersants are used to break down oil slicks and spots on the surface of water, prior to the full impacts of oil spills being eliminated with special equipment.