Sustainable Development

Research, Design and Innovations

Research and Innovations

Rosneft carries out its innovative activities in accordance with the Innovation Development Programme approved by its Board of Directors.

The Programme aims to achieve the Company’s strategic goals drawing on its strategic priorities, such as efficiency, sustainable growth, transparency, social responsibility, and innovations.

The Programme provides for a range of activities with a focus on:

  • development and deployment of new technologies;
  • development, production, and launch of new world-class innovative products and services;
  • support of the Company’s modernisation and technological advancement through high-impact improvements in key performance indicators for business processes;
  • enhancement of the Company’s shareholder value and competitive edge in the global market.
Total R&D costs in 2019 amounted to
RUB  30 bln

Target Innovative Projects

In the reporting year, Rosneft continued with the implementation of R&D results and the protection of intellectual property rights. The R&D efforts in 2019 resulted in 61 intellectual property applications submitted by the Company.

Key Achievements in 2019

Exploration and Production
  • The Company successfully tested the technology for using horizontal production and injection wells with multi-stage hydraulic fracturing to develop low-permeability reservoirs at a pilot area of the Prirazlomnoye field. The use of horizontal wells as injection ones (for reservoir pressure maintenance) proved to be effective:
    • injectivity index of horizontal wells was, on average, three times higher than that of vertical wells;
    • the fluid flow rate in the horizontal wells (for reservoir pressure maintenance) in the pilot area decreased at a slower pace as compared with the standard development technology.

Unlike the standard development scheme (one horizontal production well and two directional injection wells), the new scheme is based on one horizontal injection well instead of two directional injection wells. This results in both cost savings and higher oil production. RN-Yuganskneftegaz continued to deploy this technology at the Priobskoye field, with over 80 wells drilled in total.

  • RN-Yuganskneftegaz continued to deploy the newly developed multi-stage hydraulic fracturing technology at the Salymskoye field, having performed a nine-stage hydraulic fracturing operation on a horizontal well in an ultralow-permeability reservoir at the Bazhenov suite (YuS0 formation). With 610 tonnes of proppant injected, the oil flow was recorded at 6.5 t per day per stage, which is a significant result for the Bazhenov suite. In 2019, RN-Yuganskneftegaz also updated the map of development potential categories for the Bazhenov suite based on which it plans to drill over 30 horizontal wells with multi-stage hydraulic fracturing in 2020–2022.
  • In 2019, we finalised our unique technology for gas production from the Berezovskaya suite. The distinctive feature of the technology is that it allows fissure logging while drilling. The logging results can be used to identify the optimal layout of hydraulic fracturing ports, contributing to more effective development of the Kharampurskoye field. A patent application has been filed.
  • Rosneft partnered with the National Intellectual Development Foundation to test the integration technology for multi-scale studies of the Jurassic high-carbon formation which helped discover a new gas deposit at the Vostochno-Unlorsky licence area and estimate movable oil resources of the Severo-Demyanskaya area amounting to over 100 mmt.
  • The Company developed technologies for core analysis on hard-to-recover reserves which help determine relative permeabilities and displacement efficiencies in low-permeability reservoirs, relative permeabilities in poorly consolidated core samples, and residual oil saturation in gas zones (oil fringes). Once implemented, the economic effect is expected to exceed RUB 10 bln for gas and gas condensate deposits in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area – Yugra.
High technology software
Research-intensive Technology Software
  • New software modules were added to RN-SMT, an integrity monitoring system for oilfield pipelines. The system aims to fully digitalise all processes related to pipeline operations, reduce operating risks and inform management action. Going forward, RN-SMT will make into a single corporate software suite capable of fully supporting pipeline operations.
  • To improve the field design accuracy and select the most appropriate hydrocarbon extraction technologies, Rosneft makes extensive use of field models created by its proprietary RN-KIM hydrodynamic simulator. This advanced software has been widely exploited by the Company for over five years and is adapted to the geological and operating conditions of the fields the Company is developing. In 2019, we released a new version that allows us to quickly (using graphics processing units or computer clusters) create models for oil and gas condensate fields that require computation-intensive analysis. As a result, about 80% of digital field modelling works were performed using RN-KIM. Going forward, the proprietary simulator will not only cover 90–95% of the Company’s needs for hydrodynamic modelling, it will also provide for artificial intelligence applications in field development planning.
  • RN-KIM hydrodynamic simulator added software modules for multicomponent filtration, optimisation algorithms for autoadaptive hydrodynamic modelling, and support for graphics processing units (GPUs). In 2019, over 70% of hydrodynamic models in the Company were created with RN-KIM. Moreover, the system was provided to the relevant departments of the leading universities which offer training to Rosneft’s employees. The proprietary simulator is expected not only to cover 90–95% of the Company’s needs for hydrodynamic modelling, but also to provide for artificial intelligence applications in field development planning.
  • RN-Geosim added software modules for building vertical and tilted faults for structural surfaces, visualising seismic cubes, multipoint statistics, basic reports on geological models, and parallel computations. RN-Geosim is anticipated to cover up to 80% of the Company’s needs for geological modelling.
  • RN-Simtep added software modules for modelling oil and gas production processes. Going forward, RN-Simtep will cover up to 80% of the Company’s needs for production process modelling and eventually tap into oil refining and petrochemicals processes.
  • The Company developed a concept for RN-PetroLog, corporate software suite for interpretation of core samples and well log data, together with a RN-PetroLog prototype. The Company intends to drastically reduce its dependence on foreign vendors by developing proprietary petrophysical software and integrating it into its digital space.
  • Another important highlight was Rosneft Seismic Challenge, an open championship in seismic data analysis based on machine learning. The event attracted about 500 teams from nine countries. The task was to offer an automatic method for correlating reflecting horizons throughout the seismic cube based on image segmentation. The solutions developed by the participants will help automate manual processes in seismic exploration. The best algorithms and concepts will be prepared for pilot testing as a seismic module of the corporate software.
Arctic Shelf
  • The Kara Summer 2019 research expedition covered the Barents, Kara, Laptev and Chukchi seas providing for the maintenance of measuring infrastructure deployed by the Company in the Arctic, and hydrometeorological observations. The Company will rely on its results to design facilities and perform operations across its license areas on the Arctic shelf.
  • Meteorological surveys were conducted in the area of the Khastyr temporary field base (the Khatanga Bay, the Laptev Sea). The data collected in the course of meteorological and actinometric observations will be used to develop provisional operating conditions for the Khatanga licence area.
  • The Company developed a concept for a dome-type special-purpose facility to contain and clean up emergency oil spills on the shelf, including in deep-sea areas and in the Arctic. It is intended to gather oil leaking from damaged equipment and to pump it to surface. It excels in containing subsea oil spills virtually everywhere, within a wide range of depths and ice conditions. The project won an award from the International Contest for R&D and Innovations for the Development of the Arctic and the Continental Shelf.
  • The Company developed surface-active agents, unprecedented in Russia, which can be used to clean up emergency oil spills at sea due to their oil dispersing capacity. These consist of low-toxic components made in Russia.
Associated Petroleum Gas Monetisation
Associated Petroleum Gas Monetisation
  • Rosneft developed a laboratory-level GTL technology which allowed for mixing synthetic and mineral oil to produce commercial petroleum products compliant with the existing quality standards. The Company engaged international expertise to attest the GTL feasibility and produce recommendations for its pilot testing.
  • Rosneft partnered with the National Intellectual Development Foundation to design, manufacture and deliver a pilot APG desulphurisation unit based on microporous membranes for the Garshinskaya preliminary water discharge facility at Orenburgneft, with pilot testing commenced and continuing into 2020.
Oil Refining and Petrochemicals
  • Rosneft developed a laboratory-level technology to regenerate xylenol and butylated fire-resistant oil wastes intended for high-powered turbines, including at nuclear power plants. Following regeneration, fire-resistant oil can be used to wash lubrication systems of both new and repaired turbines.
  • The Company successfully tried the hydrogenation technology for converting acetone into isopropanol at its pilot testing facility and ran endurance tests on a catalyst batch used in the process.
  • Rosneft developed a laboratory-level suspension technology to produce EPDM rubbers, including the composition and specifications of a catalyst used in the process. Once implemented, the project will help optimise the existing EPDM production in terms of operating costs and product quality.
  • The Company arranged for independent tests at its refineries with a view to streamlining dispersant and depressor additives for diesel fuels. It also developed the composition thereof and a process to produce the same.
  • Rosneft developed a laboratory-level technology to produce isopropylbenzene using heterogeneous catalysts. It also developed the composition and a process to produce heterogeneous catalysts for benzene alkylation with propylene and transalkylation. The Company intends to revamp its existing isopropylbenzene facilities to reduce production costs and increase margins.
  • Rosneft ran endurance tests on a pilot batch of hydrotreating catalysts for diesel mixtures which proved Ht-120 RN catalyst’s high capacity while converting diesel mixtures with a sulphur content of 1.45% into diesel fuel containing less than 10 ppm of residual sulphur.
  • The Company developed and patented Russia’s first-ever additive package for all-season hydraulic oils. The heavy-loaded pumping tests proved that Rosneft Gidrotec HVLP 46 hydraulic oil with this additive package was on par with foreign peers in terms of quality. Rosneft Gidrotec HVLP 46 with a domestic additive package became Russia’s first hydraulic oil certified by a foreign equipment manufacturer, Bosch Rexroth. The additive package is set to substitute for imports currently used by the Company and give it a competitive edge as a producer of energy-efficient HVLP hydraulic oils for industrial and mobile machinery.
Polymeric Materials for Oil Production
  • The Company continued to test its newly developed proppant made of polymeric materials, with four full-scale (equal in volumes to the use of conventional ceramic proppant at adjacent wells) hydraulic fracturing operations performed at the Samotlor field. These tests affirmed the high performance of ultra-lightweight polymeric proppant based on polydicyclopentadiene (PDCPD) without causing fractures to move upward (without breaking thin barriers between water-saturated formations and the target formation), also proving that the PDCPD-based proppant could be injected with low-viscosity fluids (linear gel, salting liquid) to the formations at the Samotlor field. The Company will rely on this proppant to effectively develop previously unprofitable and thus undeveloped hydrocarbon deposits.

Adaptation and Adoption of Advanced Technologies

As part of its efforts to adopt promising efficient technologies developed by Russian and foreign companies, the Company arranged for testing, adaptation, and adoption of innovations while running pilot projects in 2019. These tests helped evaluate their key features and conduct feasibility studies as to their fitness for the geological and operating environment of the Company’s exploration and poduction subsidiaries.

In 2019, 152 technologies were put on test by 22 Group Subsidiaries. A total of 511 tests were conducted as part of pilot projects, resulting in 299 kt of incremental oil production. The Company and its relevant business units review the results, assess the economic viability of implementing proposed solutions, and prepare plans for their roll-out and implementation.

As part of the implementation programme, the Company implemented and rolled out 116 new technologies which proved their viability following prior tests. Rosneft spent RUB 3.2 bln to deploy and roll out 6.7 thousand solutions.

Pilot projects Quantity Total incremental oil production, kt Total economic effect, RUB mln
Technology testing 297 130 463
Technology deployment 78 283 659

As part of its efforts to implement the Target Innovative Projects, the Company signed over 50 licence and sublicence agreements for the transfer of its software and solutions (RN-KIN, RN-GRID) and the manufacturing process for produced water treatment units worth over RUB 90 mln, including to provide training to students at the industry-related departments of the leading Russian universities.

In 2019, the combined proven economic effect from the Target Innovative Projects implemented over the last three years exceeded RUB 36 bln.

Corporate Research and Design Complex

Rosneft includes 29 corporate research and design institutes with over 16 thousand highly qualified professionals, of which 5% hold Ph.D. and research degrees. The institutes opened 43 specialised establishments that act as centres of competence for specific and complex operations.

The amount of work performed by these institutes more than doubled, driven by the growing need of the Company’s businesses for their services. The number of designs and estimates provided for the Company’s capital construction projects increased significantly, the number of innovation patents rose by 30% while the quality of services improved consistently (by 5% annually).

To ensure technological security, systematic import substitution and cost reduction, the corporate institutes develop a full range of proprietary research software solutions in geology and exploration (RN-KIM, RN-KIN, RN-GRID, RN-Sigma and more) that are now used both within and beyond the Company. The share of the Company’s projects that rely on its proprietary software has doubled to 50% compared to 25% in 2016.

The development and roll-out of a standard design system enabled the Company to provide standard design solutions to 83 % of its facilities (35% in 2016). As a result, the Company expects to save over RUB 31 bln in capital expenditure in 2018- 22.

Thanks to the in-house service that was built from scratch using the resources of the corporate institutes, Rosneft has become the largest Russian company providing geological support for drilling operations both by the number of wells supported annually and by the quality of geosteering service (including for multilateral complex wells). As a result, the Company moved away from using third-party services and saved more than RUB 1.2 bln.