Gazprom Neft has undertaken aerial laser scanning of 120 hectares of forested areas around oilfields in the Orenburg Oblast and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, using these to then create digital terrain models. Ecologically secure routes have subsequently been created to move specialist equipment into hard-to-reach forested areas, eliminating any need for felling trees. Widespread adoption of this approach will mean the company can ensure the full protection of forested areas in undertaking geological investigations.
Digital terrain models have revealed a high level of detail regarding the positioning and specific characteristics (species, height and thickness) of each individual tree. This new approach further improves environmental security in geological and seismic surveying of oil reserves, as well as minimising the costs of these.
The advantage of digital scanning lies in the versatility and inclusiveness of the data produced, which can be used by various companies and governmental organisations. This is particularly relevant in situations in which information on Russia’s forested areas is often only accessible through maps dating from the middle of the last century. Modern digital models can represent more up-to-date information on forests, and the location and species of each tree, as well as the number of trees across a specific area.
Further testing of Gazprom Neft’s technology, involving specialists from Russia’s Federal Agency for Forestry, is planned at an oilfield in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. Going forward, the development of a database of digital models of forested areas could help strengthen government oversight in forestry protection, and in developing the forestry industry.