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Gazprom Neft gets ready to deploy cargo drones at fields in the Khanti-Mansi Autonomous Okrug

Supported by the Government of the Khanti-Mansi Autonomous Okrug-Yugra, Gazprom Neft subsidiaries Gazpromneft-Khantos and Gazpromneft-Snabzheniye have successfully tested cargo drones in the southern section of the Priobskoye oilfield. Going forward, AI-controlled technology could take over most logistics operations at oilfields in the Okrug.

Testing involved an oil-industry team checking the functionality of an unmanned GAZelle Next Electro electric vehicle, and the possibility of this being used to address the typical transportation problems that arise in infield roads. The team involved in this experiment assessed the vehicle’s manoeuvrability, traffic safety, autonomous range, and the stability of its connection to the remote control centre. The vehicle proved its ability to independently identify obstacles and adjust its route, while also taking unforeseen limitations into account — including recording the appearance of other vehicles and pedestrians in its path, and changing its speed and direction automatically.

The unmanned vehicle proved effective in covering distances of up to 30 km, with stops en route. Speeds in testing averaged 40 kph, over total mileage of more than 90 km in unmanned mode. The electric vehicle successfully completed all tasks, in full compliance with the rules of the road, proving the potential for using unmanned GAZelle Next vehicles on infield roads throughout Gazprom Neft assets in Western Siberia.

Following testing, clarifications on further fine-tuning to improve reliability in using the electric vehicle were forwarded to its production plant, with a further round of testing expected once these have been taken into account. The first cargo drones could be used on shifts at fields in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug as soon as 2021.

Thanks to support from the Government of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug-Yugra the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation had included this location in its list of areas for the pilot testing of unmanned vehicles, making it possible to run an experiment on testing innovative technology at fields throughout the region. Company subsidiary Gazpromneft-Snabzheniye’s Logistics Innovation Centre was responsible for managing the project on behalf of Gazprom Neft.

“Artificial intelligence is now helping us in searching for hydrocarbons, in installing surface facilities, and in day-to-day field development. Digital technologies are now not just a tool for increasing production efficiency, but also the key to improving quality and, most importantly, improving workplace and labour safety. This is an absolute priority for us, and particularly so under the extreme natural and climatic conditions of Western Siberia.”
Vadim Yakovlev
Vadim Yakovlev Deputy CEO for Upstream, Gazprom Neft
“The Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug has been involved testing the pilot operation of highly automated vehicles. Using innovations in transport logistics could open up new opportunities for developing Russian-produced smart technologies in transportation. As a result of which, we will be able not only to improve road safety but also improve the investment attractiveness of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug-Yugra.”
Alexey Zabozlaev Deputy Governor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug-Yugra
Notes for editors

Testing of unmanned vehicles had previously taken place at the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field (covering the Yamal Peninsula and Gydan Peninsula and under development by Gazprom Neft—Rosneft JV Messoyakhaneftegaz) under a joint Gazprom Neft—KAMAZ Group project implemented with the support of the Government of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Testing confirmed the potential for KAMAZ unmanned vehicles to be used in logistics operations under the extreme natural and climatic conditions of the Arctic.

Gazprom Neft is continuing the ongoing digitalisation of its assets in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug—Yugra. The company has established a Production Management Centre in the region, managing infield production processes using “digital-twin” technologies. Gazpromneft-Khantos, in partnership with Gazpromneft-Snabzheniye, established a digital logistics facility, comprising a series of functional zones — goods inwards, despatch, picking, augmented reality (AR), temporary storage (warehousing), cantilever shelving, and an unmanned automated palletisation area — at the Yuzhno-Priobskoye field in early 2020. This innovative approach has allowed storage capacity to be optimised by up to 40%, delivered 50% faster access to goods, and cut logistics operating costs by 30%.

Testing of unmanned GAZelle Next electric vehicles at Gazpromneft-Khantos’ infield roads was managed by Automotive Intelligent Technologies, Nizhny Novgorod.