Gazprom Neft has completed testing of new-generation seabed seismic stations (so-called “Flounder” stations) for offshore exploration in the Sea of Okhotsk — a project originally initiated in 2019. Development of this Russian-developed seismic-exploration equipment is being undertaken with the involvement of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, which has allocated more than RUB500 to projects of this kind.
These “Flounder” seabed stations have been designed and launched by research and development agency Aviation and Marine Electronics NPP, with the first batch having successfully completed laboratory testing. Marine Arctic Geological Expedition (JSC MAGE) and ROSGEO (Rosgeologica JSC) are scheduled to test the devices under real-word conditions at offshore license blocks belonging to Gazprom Neft later this year. The previous model of these seabed stations — the CRAB — successfully proved its capabilities during seismic exploration works at the Ayashsky license block in the Sea of Okhotsk in 2019.
The new seabed station is cylindrical in shape, significantly improving its ergonomics and making it easy to see even in poor visibility under challenging weather conditions. The stations contain new hydrophones and geophones, a compass and a built-in acoustic module — all of which improves quality in data collection and processing, making it possible to obtain a more precise seismic map from work locations.
The next generation of seabed stations will be equipped with a mechanism allowing them to be lowered to the seabed and lifted back to the vessel automatically rather than manually. This mechanism, which is expected to be developed by 2022, will make technicians’ work much easier, as well as increasing speed in undertaking offshore seismic surveys.
“The need to develop standalone seabed seismic stations was recognised during work by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation’s Scientific and Technical Committee for Developing Oil and Gas Equipment. When we started implementing this project there were no domestic producers anywhere in the country, and offshore geological exploration had to be done using foreign equipment. These stations’ workability and performance was confirmed during field tests in 2019, and by
2019–2020 MAGEJSC had around 3,000 ready for use on Gazprom Neft license blocks.”Mikhail Ivanov Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation
Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade financed the development and resource-testing of advanced sea-bed seismic stations throughout 2019. Battery modules in these stations can be replaced quickly, allowing uninterrupted operation, and are equipped with hydrophones with “in-field” replacement capability, and improved quartz clocks and compasses.
“Developing Russian-produced seabed stations marks an important event for the industry. Gazprom Neft is continuing this project as part of its involvement in the work of St Petersburg’s EnergoTechnoHub. Supported by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, we have significantly improved these new-generation stations and are developing a unique lowering and lifting mechanism for them. Successful completion of testing will allow these to be taken to market — in Russia and internationally, going forward. This is another example of effective cooperation between business, government and manufacturers developing — in partnership — innovative equipment that is competitive with the world’s best.”Igor Rustamov Director General, Gazprom Neft Shelf
Research and development company Aviation and Marine Electronics NPP is a Russian company responsible for developing state contracts in pilot construction works on the following government projects: “Developing a Mobile Hardware/Software System for Marine Seismic Exploration and Monitoring in Offshore Transition Zones based on New-Generation Four-Component Standalone Automatic Seabed Seismic Stations” and “Resource Testing of a Mobile Hardware/Software System for Marine Seismic Exploration in Offshore Transition Zones based on Advanced Four-Component Standalone Seabed Seismic Stations.”
The agreement on launching the St Petersburg Energy TechnoHub project was signed by the St Petersburg City Administration, Gazprom Neft, and the Agency for Technological Development at the end of 2019. 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.
* Hydrophone — a receiver for listening to underwater signals and sounds.
** Geophone — a device used to pick up sonic waves reverberating in the upper layers of the earth’s crust.