Sustainable development

Research, Design, and Innovations

Research and Innovations

Rosneft carries out its innovative activities in accordance with the 2020–2024 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 to 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.

In the reporting year, Rosneft continued with a successful implementation of R&D results and state registration of intellectual property rights. The R&D efforts in 2020 resulted in 60 intellectual property applications submitted by, and 64 patents granted to, the Company.

Total R&D costs in 2020 amounted to
RUB 26.8 bln

Key Achievements in 2020

The Company implements projects in various fields, including oil and gas production, oil refining, and petrochemicals.

Upstream

  • RN-Yuganskneftegaz continued to deploy a low-permeability reservoir development technology involving the use of horizontal production and injection wells and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing (MSHF). In 2020, the technology was deployed at more than 120 wells. 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. Also in 2020, a new software module, Decision Support in Development of New Areas of Low-Permeable Reservoirs, was added to the RN-KIN corporate software package as part of the Company’s R&D activities. The module was used by RN-Yuganskneftegaz to calculate the optimal drilling score for 2021–2025.
  • RN-Yuganskneftegaz continued to deploy the newly developed MSHF technology in an ultralow-permeability source rock reservoir at the Bazhenov suite (YuS0 formation). Nine horizontal MSHF wells were commissioned in 2020. Their average initial flow rate amounted to 55 t per day in a flow mode (or 6.8 t per day per hydraulic fracturing stage), which is in line with the best global practices. MSHF wells demonstrated 1.5–3 times better performance as compared to the previous project development phase. Also in 2020, we finalised our technology designed to locate potentially productive areas of the Bazhenov suite. With this technology, we updated a map of potentially productive areas of the Bazhenov suite. The map will be used by RN-Yuganskneftegaz to drill over 20 horizontal MSHF wells in 2021–2023.
  • Rosneft developed a consolidated methodology that allows evaluating local permeability and porosity properties of the Berezovskaya suite deposits. With the new methodology, the Company refined its technology used to locate Berezovskaya suite reserves in its license area in Western Siberia. A new stratigraphic plan of upper cretaceous deposits in Western Siberia was developed.
  • Rosneft partnered with the National Intellectual Development Foundation (Innopraktika) to conduct zoning of the Frolov petroleum region in terms of movable hydrocarbon fluid resources, occluded hydrocarbon compounds, and organic matter in the Jurassic high-carbon formation. The Company identified oil exploration targets in the Jurassic high-carbon
  • formation of the Frolov petroleum region. Its integration technology for multi-scale studies of the Jurassic high-carbon formation in the Sredneobskaya oil and gas bearing region of Western Siberia was upgraded, adapted and tested to conduct petrophysical studies and analyse logging and seismic data.
Research, design, and innovations

Research-intensive Technology Software

  • New algorithms were added to RN-SMT, an integrity monitoring system for oilfield pipelines. They allow us to calculate the maximum possible pressure subject to technical condition of the facilities, carry out factor analysis of changes in pumping energy efficiency, and monitor pipeline inhibition. The system provides an opportunity to fully digitalise all the processes related to pipeline operations, reduce operating risks and assist in management decision-making. Once completed, RN-SMT will turn into a single corporate software suite capable of fully supporting pipeline operations.
  • To support the national oil and gas industry in its efforts to substitute imports of critical specialist software products, Rosneft commercialised its RN-GRID simulator to serve external consumers; licenses to use the simulator were made available for purchase. The Company continues to issue RN-GRID licenses to all Russian oil and gas companies. In 2020, 115 commercial licenses and over 40 test licenses for RN-GRID were granted to 23 oil and gas production and service companies. In addition, four leading partner universities were granted more than 50 academic licenses to use RN-GRID in teaching. 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 product has been widely exploited by the Company for over six years and adapted to the geological and operating conditions of the fields the Company is developing. In 2020, we released a new version of this software product with composite modelling that makes it possible to perform computations using graphics processing units or computer clusters and create models for oil and gas condensate fields that require computation-intensive analysis. Rosneft also developed a module that determines the optimal irregular well placement by applying artificial intelligence technologies (similar to Google DeepMind's AlphaZero). As a result, more than 80% of digital field modelling tasks were performed using RN-KIM. Going forward, the proprietary simulator will not only cover 90–95% of the Company’s needs for hydrodynamic modelling, but also allow us to actively apply artificial intelligence technologies in field development.
  • Rosneft developed RN-GEOSIM 0, a geological modelling software system (similar to leading foreign geological modelling software packages) that will assist in building geological models of fields. The Company is also developing modules for kinematic interpretation of seismic information. The newly developed system features unique capabilities of modelling process management and can automatically update geological models with new field data received. RN-GEOSIM is anticipated to cover up to 80% of the Company’s needs for geological modelling.
  • %% of the Company’s needs for production process modelling and eventually tap into oil refining and petrochemicals processes.
  • New features were added to the RN-PETROLOG corporate software suite for interpretation of core samples and well log data. These features allow uploading large projects (more than 10 thousand wells), connecting external modules, processing metadata of a petrophysical project, obtaining statistics on data availability in the project, filtering well data in the project tree (making flexible data requests). The Company intends to drastically reduce its dependence on foreign vendors by developing proprietary petrophysical software and integrating it into its digital universe.
  • The Company organised a series of competitions for Russian programmers. HackathonsA hackathon is a forum for software developers where experts from various software development career fields (programmers, designers, managers) solve a certain problem collectively in a time-constrained environment. help Rosneft to draw attention of the global IT community to solving industry-specific applied problems. In 2020, the number of hackathon topics was increased to three, which reflects to the Company’s growing interest in IT technologies and their potential applications to address current challenges of the industry.
    • The first IT marathon event, Hackathon of Three Cities, was held on 24–25 September in Ufa, Kazan and Samara simultaneously. Over 250 students and postgraduates comprising 52 teams were solving a classic “postman problem” (finding the shortest route to deliver “letters” to all addressees), but in the context of oil and gas.
    • The competitions continued with a hackathon for robotics programmers in Ufa State Aviation Technical University on 16–17 October. The purpose of the hackathon was to find new approaches to solving operating problems with the use of robots and robot-based mechanisms, as well as to promote a career in robotics among students of Russian higher education institutions. The teams were writing a programming algorithm for a four-axial robot manipulator (to perform manufacturing equipment disassembly tasks), designing and 3D printing a robot-based gripper tooling. The organisers provided the contestants with all the required technical devices.
    • The IT marathon ended with Rosneft Proppant Check Challenge (RPCC). Its online finals took place on 28 November. Representatives of 35 universities from 28 countries participated in the challenge. This was an absolute record for IT competitions held in Russia’s oil and gas industry.
    • During the 2.5-month online Proppant Check Challenge, 942 contestants (822 teams) were estimating the linear size and quantity of proppant grains by analysing a series of images. Ten teams that presented the best PC and smartphone solutions to the Company’s experts qualified for RPCC finals.
  • The Company is working to expand the functionality of RN-SIGMA, one of its most rapidly developing software products. RN-SIGMA was designed to solve the problems of geomechanical modelling and stability analysis of directional and horizontal wellbores.

In 2020, RN-SIGMA capabilities were expanded considerably, with the following features added: geomechanical drilling support in real-time mode, wellbore stability dynamic modelling based on time-dependent structural changes of rock formations, assessment of sand ingress risks and risks of cement sheath failure during well operation. The new features cover a full range of tasks associated with data acquisition, analysis and pre-processing, 1D geomechanical model building and transfer, drilling failures prediction, well path and well structure optimisation, and calculation of the mud weight window for safe operation.

At present, RN-SIGMA has all the required algorithms and interface solutions to build a 1D geomechanical model of wellbore stability and includes a number of modern non-default capabilities, such as elastic anisotropy tracking, temperature tracking, etc.

  • In 2020, the Company developed RN-VEKTOR, a proprietary coil tubing simulator. This industrial software product is capable of mathematical modelling and analysis of production operations involving the use of coil tubing. The simulator offers more than 50 algorithms for stress, hydraulic and fatigue wear calculations to model various production operations conducted with the use of coil tubing, such as wellbore cleanout, well stimulation and development, milling operations to restore the full bore of the well, fishing operations, cement and parker plug placing and drilling, acid treatment, geophysical surveys, sand blast perforation, etc.

The coil tubing simulator is used in the oil and gas industry to plan, monitor and analyse coil tubing technology operations. At present, the simulator undergoes pilot testing by more than 100 dedicated experts at 24 Group Subsidiaries.

  • In 2020, Rosneft created RN-VISOR, a software product for real-time visualisation of coil tubing/hydraulic fracturing data.

RN-VISOR is a real-time data acquisition, processing and visualisation tool installed on the coil tubing/hydraulic fracturing control station.

RN-VISOR collects integrated data coming from control station sensors, enables data storage and visualisation of coil tubing or hydraulic fracturing operations and data transmission through a user-friendly interface, and has over 50 flexible adjustment parameters.

  • While developing an information modelling technology for oil and gas production and refining facilities, the Company created over 20 standardised CAD work stations, prototypes of IT systems for geotechnical monitoring and feasibility assessment of project design documents, a centralised design documentation archive and a 3D image directory. This technology will drastically increase the automation of design processes in oil and gas production and refining and will provide for a single database of information models used in design, construction and operation.
Research, design, and innovations

Arctic Shelf

  • Two research expeditions were organised in the Kara and Laptev Seas to conduct geophysical and environmental studies, perform maintenance of the measuring infrastructure deployed by the Company in the Arсtic, and collect hydrological, meteorological and ice data. 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), with meteorological and actinometric data collected. Provisional local operating conditions for the Khatanga license area were developed.
  • The Company developed a commercial technology to manufacture two dispersant compositions to be used in emergency oil clean-up operations at sea. The dispersant agents were tested on a large test facility in comparison with a foreign commercial dispersant. The test results confirmed that the newly developed dispersants are highly effective.
  • Another expedition, Iceberg Spring 2020 in the Barents Sea, was organised as part of the corporate ice monitoring system development programme. During the expedition, the crew tested ice monitoring system components and staged six experiments on diverting potentially dangerous ice formations. Technical aids were developed to ensure iceberg safety of marine oil and gas field structures. The project won the first prize in the international contest for R&D, engineering and innovative projects aimed at development and exploration of the Arctic and its continental shelf.
  • The Company launched a new project called Development of Regional Stratigraphic Modelling Technology for Underexplored Sedimentary Basins in the Arctic with the Use of Marine Shallow Wells Data. During the project's first stage in 2020, Rosneft drilled the northernmost stratigraphic wells on the Russian Arctic shelf. The results of the expedition were broadcast by Russia-1, Russia-24 and Discovery channels and presented in a number of federal print media. The initial analysis of core samples shows the unique nature of the acquired geological material, which will be used to make reliable predictions of oil and gas occurrence in the explored Arctic shelf waters and determine prospective targets in the Company’s Severo-Karsky license area.

Associated Petroleum Gas Monetisation

  • Rosneft continued with the GTL technology project. The Company developed a plan for its pilot testing and commenced engineering of a GTL-1.5 pilot unit.
  • It partnered with the National Intellectual Development Foundation to design and manufacture a pilot APG desulphurisation unit based on microporous membranes. The unit was added to the preliminary water discharge facility at Orenburgneft.

Oil Refining

  • The Company developed a technology for the reactivation of diesel fuel hydrotreatment catalysts. It is capable of restoring catalysts to more than 95% of the activity demonstrated by fresh catalysts. The technology drastically improves the catalyst efficiency and reduces their purchase costs.
  • The Company successfully completed the development of a diesel fraction isodewaxing catalyst with a higher tolerance to sulphur compounds, and its production technology. The Novokuibyshevsk Catalyst Plant released a catalyst with a higher tolerance to sulphur compounds for an integrated hydrotreatment/isodewaxing process. The decision to commercialise the new product will be made after the catalyst is tested at the Angarsk Plant of Catalysts and Organic Synthesis (tests scheduled for 2021). If the decision is positive, the product will fully substitute imported catalysts for the integrated hydrotreatment/isodewaxing process at the Angarsk Petrochemical Company.
  • In December 2020, the Novokuibyshevsk Catalyst Plant produced the first commercial batches of an isodewaxing catalyst IDZ-028RN and a hydrofinishing catalyst HG-017RN. The catalysts were delivered to the Kuibyshev Refinery in preparation for production testing scheduled for March 2021. Following the production tests, Rosneft will decide on the commencement of full-scale production of the innovative catalyst at the Company’s plants and its further use at Rosneft’s oil refineries. The new catalytic system will be the first domestic catalyst system for the production of winter and Arctic grades of ultra-low-sulphur diesel fuel.
  • With the goal of reducing the Company’s dependence on foreign suppliers of catalysts, Rosneft developed techniques to obtain isodewaxing and hydrofinishing catalysts for the production of high-viscosity index base oils.
  • Rosneft successfully completed an R&D phase to develop diesel fuels with improved environmental properties and performance for the Company’s oil refineries. Based on the results of qualification and laboratory engine tests, the Company issued recommendations for the commencement of commercial production of diesel fuel with improved environmental properties and performance at the Saratov Oil Refinery.
  • The Company successfully completed R&D activities to develop uniform technical specification for neutralisers intended to ensure chemical protection against corrosion of the condensation and cooling equipment of atmospheric and vacuum distillation units at the Company’s oil refineries. As a result, the specification for neutralisers will be amended accordingly. These efforts will improve operational performance of crude oil distillation units (decelerate corrosion and sedimentation, cut operating costs associated with chemical protection against corrosion, and mitigate the risks of unscheduled downtime due to clogged heat exchangers in the atmospheric and vacuum distillation units).

Polymeric Materials for Oil Production

  • Rosneft designed a dicyclopentadiene-based binding substance for the production of polymer composites and a technique to produce polymer composite pipe segments. It also developed a strength calculation methodology for polymer composite pipes. The Company produced and tested representative samples of polymer composite pipes. Following the tests, the binding substance composition was altered. The representative samples of pipe segments made of PDCPD-based polymer composites were found to fully comply with physical and mechanical requirements. Results of ultimate collapse pressure tests were 40% better than those expected. This indicates that the pipe has a good margin of strength.
  • Rosneft created an industrial technology to produce a ruthenium catalyst for dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) metathesis polymerisation. It developed initial design data for an industrial facility to produce the ruthenium catalyst for the DCPD metathesis polymerisation process. The ruthenium catalyst is intended for the production of polymers and polymer composites based on polydicyclopentadiene (PDCPD), such as an ultra-lightweight polymeric proppant for hydraulic fracturing, polymer composite casing, dispersant and depressor additives, etc.

High-tech equipment

  • In July 2020, Rosneft completed successful production tests of a pilot mobile preliminary water discharge unit (MPWDU) at an Arctic facility located in the Tazovsky District of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area. The technology is designed to provide primary treatment of the formation fluid directly at the field, near the well pad, to avoid transporting ballast (formation water) to the central preparation and gathering facility. The tool is based on a unique patented technology of mass transfer coalescers enabling the production of Quality Grade 3 crude oil (according to GOST R 51858-2002 Crude petroleum. General Specifications) with residual water content of less than 1.0%. The treated bottom water is up to the industry standards. The tests demonstrated productivity of 400 t per day with a potential to ramp up capacity. Implementation of the technology does not affect the engineering and technical infrastructure, as it is not expected to be connected to the existing oil and gas collecting pipelines. It means that all MPWDU equipment is mobile and can be transported between fields and warehouses.
  • Rosneft is developing a 15 MW steerable thruster. It completed the preliminary design stage with “Released for Implementation” status and submitted applications for the protection of intellectual property created during the project implementation. The Company intends to finalise the design in 2021 following the assembly of the first steerable thruster.
High-tech equipment

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 2020. 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 upstream subsidiaries. In 2020, 127 technologies were put to test by 19 Group Subsidiaries. A total of 314 tests were conducted as part of the pilot projects, resulting in 69 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 introduced and rolled out 72 new technologies which proved their viability following prior tests. Rosneft spent RUB 1.86 bln to deploy and roll out 3.7 thousand solutions.

As part of its efforts to implement the Target Innovative Projects, the Company signed over 30 licence and sublicence agreements for the transfer of its software and solutions (RN-KIN, RN-GRID and the manufacturing process for oils worth over RUB 30 mln, including to provide training to students at the industry-related departments of the leading Russian universities. In 2020, the combined proven economic effect from the Target Innovative Projects implemented over the last three years exceeded RUB 40 bln.

Pilot projects
Metric Total projects / technologies Projects tested /deployed Costs, RUB thousand, incl. VAT Total incremental oil production, kt Economic effect, RUB thousand
Technology testing 127 314 392,063 69 370,448
Technology deployment 72 3,704 1,866,049 275 540,538

Rosneft's research and design cluster is the largest technology cluster in Europe

Research fostered by Rosneft helped create Europe’s largest (and unprecedented in the world) corporate system set to solve applied and fundamental problems of the Company and the whole oil and gas sector. To date, over 800 proprietary technologies have been developed and patented.

Rosneft currently operates 34 research and technology centres employing over 20 thousand highly qualified professionals and scientists. The Company's technology cluster is home to 44 competence centres for dedicated and research-intensive activities.

The scope of work and the range of competencies of corporate R&D facilities is growing every year. Currently, we are focused on R&D in bleeding-edge smart production technologies, robotic systems, new materials and design methods, big data systems, technologies for transition to green and resource-saving energy, and technical regulations.

Rosneft has taken the lead among Russian companies in this area with its proprietary geosteering service, which was created from scratch based on the oldest corporate Institute for Geology and Development of Fossil Fuels (IGiRGI). Savings resulting from the abandonment of foreign services totalled more than RUB 1.7 bln.

Over 300 internal regulations of Rosneft stem from its best technical solutions governing the operations of Group Subsidiaries, as well as partners, counterparties, equipment and service providers.

We have established targeted process to search for and roll out effective design solutions. Each year, Rosneft creates more than 100 design solutions to improve the reliability and technical efficiency of facilities subject to approval by the Company's Scientific and Technical Council.

For the purposes of systemic import substitution and cost optimisation, Rosneft's corporate institutes have developed a range of research-intensive technological software comprising more than 10 software products for all key oil and gas production processes.

In 2020, the corporate R&D institutes completed more than 1,500 projects ranging from geology and development to the design of field infrastructure and oil and gas processing and petrochemical facilities, reviewed by authorised state bodies.

The technology cluster’s labs have examined 26 km of core samples – about 2.8 million studies of 100 thousand samples have been conducted to provide evidence of the Company's reserves growth, including hard-to-recover reserves, and to boost the efficiency of hydrocarbon production. 19 new fields and 208 new deposits have been discovered based on inputs from the institutes.

Our research centres for oil refining manufactured more than 10,000 tonnes of petrochemicals to provide the Company's own facilities with base oils, import-substituting additives for fuels and oils.

Together with Innopraktika, a non-governmental development institute, Moscow State University, and Rosgeologia, we made two unique expeditions to develop and explore the Arctic.