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Russia’s first downhole tractor to be developed with the support of the New Industry Ventures fund

The “New Industry Ventures” fund (a collective venture fund involving Gazprom Neft, Gazprombank, the Russian Venture Company (RVC) and VEB Ventures) is implementing an investment project on developing Russia’s first serially produced equipment system for technical servicing and geophysical surveying in horizontal well sections.

The New Industries fund will allocate finance to a project being implemented by L-Petro, a company specialising in the manufacture of high-tech equipment for geophysical surveys and well interventions. Supported by the fund, the company will develop several modifications to downhole tractors and machinery for servicing horizontal wellbores, as well as starting serial production of these.* Total investment on the part of the fund will be RUB160 million.

The project is directed at developing a product line in innovative Russian equipment, and launching a high-tech product sales and servicing business. So far, a prototype downhole tractor has been developed, R&D completed, and pilot bench-testing successfully undertaken. Serial production of various modified downhole tractors is expected to commence over the next four years, with four modified versions of this equipment (levered, wheeled, hydraulic and reduced-capacity), designed to address various technological problems, planned.

In terms of their key features, L-Petro downhole tractors will meet domestic customers’ requirements in full, and will be fully competitive with leading global alternatives. The costs of both the downhole tractor itself and the costs associated with using it will be to ore more times lower than those of competitive international products.**

New Industries’ support will mean pilot production and machinery can be expanded, a business launched to handle product sales in several of Russia’s regions, and a network of service centres put in place. Serial production of the first version of the downhole tractor is expected to start in 2021. Production of subsequent models is planned by 2024.

“The oil industry has traditionally been the driver behind — and, in several instances, the source of — developments in related industries. In focussing on the needs of the oil and gas industry, Russian companies can target their work on developing innovations, with the opportunity to test their engineering and digital solutions at our fields.”
Vadim Yakovlev
Vadim Yakovlev Deputy CEO for Exploration and Production, Gazprom Neft
“Together with our venture fund partners, we are monitoring many domestic innovative developments. Choosing to invest in L-Petro was no accident. The team has more than 40 years’ experience in geophysical instrumentation. The project team faces the ambitious task of meeting the energy sector’s needs, with integrated domestic solutions that exceed currently available alternatives.”
Alexander Stepanov Deputy Chairman of the Management Board, Gazprombank
“The transaction with L-Petrol marks the second investment for our joint fund, launched just one year ago. The investments raised will significantly speed-up product development, as well as facilitating the fastest possible deployment of the product throughout Russia’s regions, with the establishment of a network of service centres. I have every confidence that this project will realise its potential not just on the domestic market, but also abroad.”
Alexei Basov Deputy General Director—Investment Director, RVC
“A significant proportion of recoverable reserves are hard-to-recover reserves: and horizontal wells, proportionally, are increasing fast — with a more than eight-fold increase over the last 10 years. The upstream industry in the Russian Federation is in urgent need of breakthrough technologies and, most importantly, such developments need to be Russian. The solutions offered by L-Petro are competitive not just on the Russian market, but also in terms of international alternatives. We’re hopeful that this investment project will help develop the entire industry.”
Oleg Teplov CEO, VEB Ventures
Notes for editors

* A downhole tractor is a device used to deliver tools and equipment to horizontal well sections for technical servicing and repairs, and for geophysical (electrical, acoustic, radioactive, electro-magnetic and other) investigations.

** The downhole tractor being developed by L-Petro will surpass international alternatives in terms of its maximum traction force. In addition to this, the device will be equipped with a smart control system, increasing efficiency in solving technological challenges in complex well sections. The cost of this equipment, the operations performed using it, and the costs involved in owning this Russian device are all significantly lower than for foreign models.

Gazprom Neft is a vertically integrated oil company, primarily engaged in the exploration and development of oil and gas fields, oil refining, and the production and sale of petroleum products. Gazprom Neft is one of Russia’s top three companies in terms of oil production and refining. The company’s hydrocarbon production stood at 96.1 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) in 2019, while refining volumes totalled 41.5 tonnes. Gazprom Neft’s corporate structure encompasses more than 70 exploration and production, refining, and retailing enterprises throughout Russia, the CIS and worldwide.

Gazprombank is one of the three largest banks in Russia, and one of the largest financial institutions in Central and Eastern Europe.

The bank provides a wide range of services to corporate and private clients, serving a number of the Russian economy’s key industries including gas, oil, chemicals and petrochemicals, metallurgy, the electric power industry, machine engineering, transport, construction, communications, agriculture, trade, and others.

Gazprombank’s retail business is focussed on offering advanced high-tech products and services. As at early 2020 the bank was servicing around five million individual customers, with a 2019 retail credit portfolio of more than RUB550 billion and a retail deposit portfolio of more than RUB480 billion.

The Russian Venture Company (RVC JSC) is a state fund of funds and a development institution in the Russian venture capital market. The main objectives of the RVC are to stimulate the development of the private venture investment industry in Russia and take on the role of project office for the National Technology Initiative (NTI). The RVC’s authorised capital stands at more than RUB30 billion. This is owned in full by the Russian Federation, represented by the Russian Federal Agency for State Property (Rosimushchestvo). The RVC now has 29 funds with a total value of RUB64.4 billion (of which RVC’s share is RUB38 billion). The RVC currently has funds in 290 portfolio companies, with total approved investments standing at RUB23 billion.

VEB Ventures (formerly VEB Innovations) is a company in the VEB.RF group, created to support high-tech projects through direct transactions and venture capital fund management. VEB Ventures’ priorities include financing promising companies through their own, private and public funds, as well as supporting Russian startups in entering international markets. The company offers projects not only venture capital investments, but also operational management support tools, as well as access to financial products offered by VEB.RF Group companies. This allows the company to formulate support schemes for Russian innovative companies in line with their individual needs, including facilitating access to international markets.

L-Petro LLC specialises in reengineering in oil production. The company’s pilot-testing facilities are located in Tver. The company has recently opened a laboratory for physical and mechanical testing of production prototypes, including the commissioning of unique bench-testing equipment.