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Gazprom Neft has become the first company in Russia to use drones in hydrocarbon exploration

Gazprom Neft has become the first company in Russia to successfully use drones in multilevel magnetic prospecting surveys, having successfully tested this technology at the company’s Novoportovskoye field. Used across an area of 100 km2 the domestically-produced drones, specially modified for this project, covered the area ten times faster than would have been possible on the ground, as well as being two times cheaper than traditional methods involving aircraft. This technology means geological prospecting can be undertaken at the most inaccessible license blocks, at any time of year.

Magnetic mapping surveys are a geological prospecting technique allowing initial information on rock formation and structure to be obtained by measuring the geomagnetic field at the surface. This information is then used in planning subsequent investigations.

Magnetic mapping is traditionally undertaken both on the ground, and from the air using aircraft and helicopters. In order to obtain sufficient information, studies of the same area have to be made several times, from various heights. It is far cheaper to do this magnetic mapping with drones — which are sufficiently light and manoeuvrable to fly at the required altitudes, ranging from 50 to 800 metres. Drones can also operate in a wide range of temperatures, from −30 to +40°C. They have been used at the Novoportovskoye field to complete flights of up to 90 minutes, covering 35 to 55 kilometres, at speeds of up to 40–60 kilometres per hour. This technology is expected to be used in investigating areas of Northern Siberia, at the Yamal, Taymyr and Gydan Peninsulas.

The project was successfully completed by a Gazprom Neft team comprising specialists from the Digital Transformation Directorate and the company’s Science and Technology Centre, together with Gazpromneft-Yamal and Gazprom Neft’s subsidiary Information Technology Service Company.

Mars Khasanov, CEO of the Gazprom Neft Science and Technology Centre, commented: «The modern oil industry is inextricably linked with cutting-edge technologies. Helped by new solutions we are optimising our business processes, making them more efficient and safer for people and for the environment. Unmanned vehicles are opening up new approaches for oil workers in geological exploration and field development.»
Mars Khasanov
Mars Khasanov CEO of the Gazprom Neft Science and Technology Centre